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Laws against Sous Vide in Boston?

chefyusef May 16, 2011 04:26 AM

Does anyone know the reasoning behind this? Apparently you can sous vide in Cambridge but not in Boston...

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    DoubleMan RE: chefyusef May 16, 2011 04:42 AM

    I'm not sure about the rules, but I wouldn't go looking for reason behind foodservice regulations in Boston.

    I imagine that it involves food being in the food temperature danger zone of 40-140 degrees for more than two hours. The fact that properly prepared sous vide food has very little risk is not something that Boston officials would care about, though.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DoubleMan
      celeriac RE: DoubleMan May 16, 2011 05:44 AM

      Agreed. Although I haven't had direct experience, from what I've heard it seems that ISD (Inspectional Services Dpt) is one of the most over-anxious governmental agencies around. For example, no Boston farmers' markets can offer taste-tests (you know, like a cut up piece of fruit with toothpicks for sampling) without some unrealistic amount of refrigeration equipment that no market can logistically provide. Right... because thousands of people every year get mortally ill from sampling some cut-up apples at a farmers' market stand. Prime example of what I don't like about this uptight city...

    2. MC Slim JB RE: chefyusef May 16, 2011 05:08 AM

      I suspect that regulation is being quietly flouted in a number of fine-dining restaurants on the Boston side of the river.


      1 Reply
      1. re: MC Slim JB
        grant.cook RE: MC Slim JB May 16, 2011 07:08 AM

        I agree on this.. I recently had a delicious piece of protein as part of a long multi-course dining experience that the waitstaff insisted wasn't sous vide'd.. they told me they had some other mysterious cooking processes in the kitchen that produced similar results. I took that as a firm answer that couldn't be a firm answer..

      2. almansa RE: chefyusef May 16, 2011 10:20 AM

        Worry not. Anyone who wants to do sous vide is doing it anyway.

        1. FastTalkingHighTrousers RE: chefyusef May 16, 2011 10:27 AM

          If you wander in to some kitchens in Boston you'll likely see a chamber kryovac machine with a note on it that reads "out of order" or "do not use" and one if not several immersion circulators quietly humming away with similar notes attached.
          A lot of chefs these days are using Winston CVap's or other precise ovens, sans-kryovac'ing so as not to violate HAACP ordinances. The temps at which they cook a lot of proteins would likely violate municipal health code but most local inspectors don't look for that kind of stuff during spot checks.

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            emannths RE: chefyusef May 16, 2011 10:35 AM

            So...any ideas as to whether this is an issue of differences in the letter or in the enforcement of the law?

            Also, you can sous vide at any temperature at or below the boiling point of water. So even if laws prevent you from holding meat at 130F, meat cooked in a 170F bath is still sous vide.

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              gryansims RE: chefyusef May 17, 2011 10:54 PM

              one of the reasons governments are worried about cryovac machines and sous vide cooking has to do with the fact that one would be dealing with a zero oxygen/anaerobic environment with food. in an anaerobic environment, there are actually some bacteria that thrive, such as potentially lethal botulism (the same bacteria that kills one or two poor home-canners per year). basically, there are ingredients such as garlic that are more susceptible to this when cyrovac'd and when this knowledge is not properly passed on or learned by kitchen staff, it could be potentially harmful to the public. with all that said, sous vide is very safe and you are more likely to be hit by lightning than to contract botulism from any restaurant in town that has the slightest clue what they are doing.

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