Sous Vide Scary?
Back to sous vide: the process of sealing food in a vacuum-sealed pouch and then low temperature cooking it. The controversy or discussion of the other day was about consistency and a disregard for terroir.
Another aspect of sous vide is safety, at least in the eyes of NYC officials. As far as I can tell, NYC stands alone on the ban, which went into effect last March. NYC health officials claim there isn’t an outright ban, a restaurant can file a HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point), however that is an extremely costly and time consuming project for a restaurant that just wants to sous vide some lamb shanks. NYC seems to have jumped the gun and worried about the ‘possibility’ of food poisoning without any evidence of actual poisoning in a technique that has been used in France since the end of WWII, and in the U.S. for about 15 years.
High end, creative restaurants like WD-50 have been using the sous vide process to experiment with flavors and textures; it’s highly unlikely that the team at WD-50 would not take care to be sure their dishes hadn’t developed botulism. Botulism can develop if the food product has been stored at too high a temperature and/or cooked at too low a temperature. But can’t the same be said about just about any food product? You leave the fresh fish on the counter all day, you are going to have a problem.
Which makes me wonder: has NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg gone all Singapore dictator on us? What is with all these food bans? Trans Fats. Foie Gras. Sous Vide. Even morel mushrooms in LA. OK, each one has very separate issues and should probably not be lumped together. But, it seems as if we are looking at a trend.
And now for the next question: Why do we still allow Smithfield to process pork in such an obviously disastrous way, but we get twitchy about foie gras? Why do we allow our cows to be fed feed that produce e.coli not only in the meat but inside the spinach that we eat?
And on a more philosophical note: Hamburgers have to be cooked to death to be served to the public, so that we can kill off all that e.coli. Why aren’t we addressing the source of the problem: contaminated meat processors, instead of adjusting our tastebuds to the charms of charred cardboard?