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Legality of Sous-Vide


MeMc
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Sous Vide is illegal in most states, but it is practiced by the best of them.

Anyone else heard this news? It must be a very recent development. I had thought only New York City's health department frowned on the practice in restaurants. I've never come across a state law or regulation that makes the sous vide cooking technique illegal. This NYT article from 10 months ago makes no mention of any states that don't allow it:

"... sous vide is part of the F.D.A.'s Food Code, and any manufacturer who wants to use it can get permission by applying to the U.S.D.A. Chipotle, a burrito chain backed by McDonald's, now cooks all its braised pork sous vide. There may be hope for airline food yet."

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Anyone else heard this news? It must be a very recent development. I had thought only New York City's health department frowned on the practice in restaurants. I've never come across a state law or regulation that makes the sous vide cooking technique illegal. This NYT article from 10 months ago makes no mention of any states that don't allow it:

"... sous vide is part of the F.D.A.'s Food Code, and any manufacturer who wants to use it can get permission by applying to the U.S.D.A. Chipotle, a burrito chain backed by McDonald's, now cooks all its braised pork sous vide. There may be hope for airline food yet."

I did a post on it for dcist a few months ago. In my research, I found the same info you did re. outlawing sous vide.

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no mention of any states that don't allow it
The issue is that New York state (and therefore NYC) hasn't adopted the FDA 2005 Model Food Code. Because there isn't a nationwide food code, each state has the option to adopt the FDA code or, like NY, come up with their own. I wonder if this regulatory/enforcement issue also affects the retail sale of frozen sous vide products at the Costco Warehouses in New York.

Health departments in other cities so far have not followed New York's lead.

Health authorities in San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia confirmed that they have not changed or altered their enforcement or inspection guidelines as they relate to sous vide. They noted that operators are obligated to use the standard put forward in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's 2005 model food code, which relies on HACCP [Hazardous Analysis Critical Control Point], in the preparation of sous-vide items.

One of the elements of the food code enforced in Chicago is that operators are required to keep their vacuum chamber machines in an isolated area separate from the rest of the kitchen's food preparation and cooking stations, explained Tu Duc Pham, supervising sanitarian of the Chicago Department of Health.

The above is from an article in the April 3, 2006 Nation's Restaurant News Magazine "N.Y. sous-vide ban puts pressure on fine-dining chefs nationwide" by Milford Prewittby. The magazine's website (nrn.com) charges for the complete text, but it's findable via Google (NOTE: my spyware detector was bothered by the find@rticle site).

Did anyone catch Gabrielle Hamilton's April 27th NYTimes editorial piece on this subject? She's the chef/owner of Prune and there's a notation that she's writing a food memoir - liked both her food sensibility and writing style.

Edited to correct: Sunday morning spelling...

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