Sous Vide was developed by George Pralus at Restaurant Troisgros in Roanne, France, in 1967. It is a technique that must be managed carefully, as there are some food safety risks. The key problems are:
- It is impossible to smell vacuum packaged food and judge whether it is fresh.
- It is impossible to check the core temperature of food that is hermetically sealed in a package.
Vacuum packaging prevents aerobic bacteria from growing on the food. However, some bacteria are of a different type; anaerobic. These multiplies where there is an absence of oxygen, such as inside a vacuum pouch. Sous Vide uses relatively low temperatures, and anaerobic bacteria can thrive in these conditions.
To reduce the risk of food poisoning, follow these guidelines:
- Use the freshest, highest quality ingredients in sous vide packages. Fresh ingredients will have fewer bacteria to start with.
- Calibrate equipment every day.
- Check all seals and packages for leaks.
- Raw packages must not be kept for me than two days before they are pasteurized.
- Pasteurization must take place above 75°C.
- Packages must be cooled to below 3°C within 2 hours of being pasteurized.
- Store packages below 3°C, in covered containers.
- Label packages with the date and time of packaging, pasteurization, and expiration.
- Use packages by the use-by date of discard them.
Sous Vide is widely used by industrial food producers: they can package food with a minimum of processing, and it will retain its flavour, texture and size. Fresh sous vide is also used in some restaurants, mostly at the ‘high end’. The technique is less popular in the majority of restaurant kitchens because of the cost of the equipment and complexity of the technique.