Sous-vide cooking: is it healthy to cook sous vide?

Is sous vide cooking safe? The airtight bags in which food is inserted, being made of plastic, can they give problems in contact with high temperatures?

Don't store avocado like this: it's dangerous

Is sous vide cooking safe? Can the airtight bags in which food is inserted be made of plastic give problems in contact with high temperatures?

Vacuum-packed or "sous vide" to use the French: those who have tried cooking food sealed in special containers are either a chef or a person who particularly loves slow cooking at low temperatures. Yes, because vacuum cooking requires a long time and the right tools. Among these, plastic casings are increasingly frequent. But are we sure they are safe for our health?

for vacuum cookingin fact, glass containers are used but, more and more often, specific plastic bags, which raise some doubts about the possible release of harmful substances.

Is it sufficient to use these materials only for the use for which they were made, avoiding overheating them? And what materials are used to create the packaging for sous vide cooking?


What is sous vide cooking, advantages and disadvantages

Before answering these questions, it is good to know what this sous vide cooking is and, above all, why many choose it.

Sous-vide cooking is one low temperature cooking method, with which food is cooked closed in special plastic bags a temperatures ranging between 50 ° and 100 °.

The food is assembled raw even with the presence of any condiments in the bag which will then be emptied from the internal air using a professional machine. It is then cooked in immersion for a variable time which can be several hours: the absence of air will allow the heat to spread evenly.

The advantages

Sous vide cooking allows you to:

  • cook without fat
  • avoid burns, which are known to be cancerous
  • do not lose the nutritional properties of food, which closed bags are able to preserve by avoiding oxidation
  • maintain all the aromas of the food: liquids and aromas penetrate into the vacuum-packed food, favoring the enhancement of taste and the preservation of softness and juiciness. One way, therefore, also to reduce the quantities of salt
  • avoid sudden changes and thermal shocks: for pressure reasons, in fact, the boiling point in the casings is lowered, allowing you to cook even at low temperatures
  • the dishwasher can also be used for this purpose

The disadvantages

  • on the other hand, however, precisely the low temperatures also imply the possibility of not cooking the meat well enough (and to eliminate the bacterial risk it should reach at least 70 degrees). To reach this threshold with sous vide cooking, it takes much longer, very long times, up to three times higher than traditional techniques
  • purchase of specific non-economic equipment

And the plastic bags?

The instructions of the producers must always be followed. If you really don't want to do without use other plastic to cook and want to experiment with the sous-vide cooking technique, know that those special bags are produced to withstand temperatures up to 115-120 degrees centigrade, therefore much higher than those required in sous-vide cooking.

The plastics adopted i polyamides (PA) e polyethylene (FOOT), materials free of PVC and BPA which also resist rapid blast chilling at low temperatures and subsequent hot regeneration.

Embossed bags (to be clear, those that have a checkered design), are generally more suitable for lower temperatures.

Having said that, are we in an iron barrel? Of what we need to be sure, experts say, are the indicazioni and limitations of use provided by manufacturers. All materials used for cooking and food management must always satisfy the safety and fitness requirements in contact with food and the plastic to be used in cooking, it must be able to withstand temperatures and, above all, must not release toxic substances.

Here you will find our table to recognize the plastics used for food.

Finally, as the toxicologist of the University of Bologna Patrizia Hrelia comments: "The substances that are released when cooking at high temperatures are probably more dangerous, as occurs in frying, in oven cooking and grilling, but also during the cooking processes. industrial transformation. In this case, we are dealing with process contaminants, such as aromatic polycyclics when grilling meat, or acrylamide, which is formed from roasted or cooked at high temperature carbohydrates ".

And not only that: for example, vacuum cooking is less harmful than grilling.

In light of this, therefore, and on the basis of current knowledge, it seems that there are no concrete risks to health in the use of plastic bags for vacuum packing. However, there remains the doubt of any long-term damage and our concrete certainty that food containers in stainless steel, glass, terracotta, ceramic should always be preferred to plastic (also) in the kitchen ...

Read also:

  • How to cook with the dishwasher
  • Plastic in contact with food: why and how to avoid it
  • Plastic and food: how to recognize plastics that should never be used with food

Germana Carillo

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