Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Safety of Plastic Bags Used in Sous Vide

This week I came across a Kickstarter project for an affordable sous-vide machine designed for use in the home kitchen, called the Nomiku. The Nomiku is an immersion circulator, which regulates the temperature of the water bath you place your food into. (←Dangling participle, I know.)

Of course the sous-vide method, regardless of the technology you use, requires sealing your food in airtight plastic bags before you place it into the water bath. Although I often eat at restaurants that cook sous-vide and I love the results, one of the reasons I haven't bought a machine for use at home yet (besides the high cost) is my concern about plastic bags leaching toxics or other harmful substances into the food. I asked the Nomiku's CEO (Chief Eating Officer) Lisa Q. Fetterman about my concern. Here is Lisa's response:

Modernized Sous Vide techniques have been around since 1974 and Georges Pralus (who adapted the technique for restaurants have figured out the plastic solutions since that time. Modern food safe plastics like the Ziploc do not have plasticizers that are toxic, especially true in stronger vacuum bags used in the food industry. If you are concerned about high temperature and plastic, bags like the Ziploc remains food safe even over 100c. However, in low temp cooking style, you rarely go above 70c. I hope this alleviates your concern. Just choose the right bags and don't buy cheap. If you do not have a vacuum machine, Ziplocs sealed under water are fine.

Lisa's bio states she spent "most of her life in media and chasing Michelin Stars (Jean Georges, Saison)." The Nomiku CTO (Chief Tasting Officer) is Abe Fetterman, "an astrophysicist with a doctorate in Plasma Physics from Princeton University." And Nomiku's CDO (Chief Dining Officer) is Wipop Bam Suppipat who "has a degree of industrial design from RISD as well as a culinary degree from the French Culinary Institute."

If you're interested in funding Nomiku, there are only 20 more days to do so! So far $169,642 of the $200,000 goal has been pledged.

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