Medical Fun Facts Podcast

MFF0067: Is sous vide safe?

It’s Monday 22 May 2017.

I want to let you know about some changes.

I’ve also decided to do one show a week for the time being.

I’m trying something new tonight.

I thought I’d make video available on the blog page. Please let me know what you think in the comments. This also means I went off script for good portions so please listen or watch to catch everything. The video can be found at

I’m really sorry, I noticed the video and audio are not synchronised properly.

Last week a friend who listens to Medical Fun Facts asked me if sous vide cooking chicken was safe.

I’ve been wanting to get a sous vide cooker for some time so this question really interested me. Some of you may know that I also have a food blog at

If you’re not familiar with sous vide, it’s basically cooking food that has been vacuum sealed. The food is cooked at relatively low temperature for an extended period. The whole process ensures food is not overcooked and remains succulent. Most foods apparently can be cooked using this method.

So back to my friend’s question. Is it safe to cook chicken sous vide style?

The simple answer is, yes, it is but you need to be careful.

Now I want to preface my comments by making it clear I’m not a food safety or food microbiology expert. I also don’t own a sous vide cooker at the moment, however, I am sorely tempted. What I currently do which is close is vacuum seal meat that I may have roasted and then freeze it. I tend to thaw it in a saucepan set to 70 °C for about 45 minutes. I find this keeps the meat tender and juicy and moist when I want leftovers.

You should always assume any poultry you buy contains Salmonella and Campylobacter. These are the most common poultry associated causes of gastroenteritis.

The aim is to cook the meat through and to aim for temperatures at least above 70 °C.

To help heat penetration, cook muscle bundles are that aren’t too thick, so separate pieces and if necessary debone and cook.

Remember the pathogens tend to live in the gut. Australia has high quality meat processing, so for sous vide it may be better to consider buying pieces rather than a whole chicken. If you are always thinking about and preventing contamination, you may be able to break down a chicken for sous vide but you want to make sure the muscle bundles you dissect away are not in contact with the cavity.

This is why red meat like beef, lamb and pork are safer when you buy large muscle bundles like rump or eye fillet. These large muscle compartments are not near the alimentary canal and during the butchering process contamination is minimised.

Most government agencies are good at sharing information, so because I’m not an expert in food safety or food microbiology, I suggest you search for food safety and sous vide on-line. I’ve included a link in the show notes to the NSW Government Food Authority guidance document which is a good place to start.

NSW Food Authority Sous vide guidance

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