Helping Hospitality Industry Thrive while Protecting Public Health

February 23, 2015

Sen. Scott Frantz and Gary Ashley of Club Managers Association at the legislative office building in Hartford testifying before the public health committee about bringing the sous-vide method of cooking to Connecticut restaurants.

Hartford, CT – Sen. Scott Frantz (R-Greenwich) spoke before the Public Health Committee of the General Assembly today in favor of a bill that would allow for a unique method of cooking food in our state. The bill proposal involves permitting the commercial use of sous-vide.

“The idea behind this bill is simple – small business owners in Connecticut would like to utilize this cooking technique in their kitchens,” said Sen. Frantz “Passage of this bill would show that we are listening to our small business owners and taking action to not only help them thrive, but to also protect public health in the process.”

What is sous-vide? The answer is it’s a French term for “under vacuum.” It’s a method of cooking, where food is sealed in air-tight plastic bags in a water bath or in a temperature-controlled steam environment for longer than normal cooking times—96 hours or more, in some cases—at an accurately regulated temperature much lower than normally used for cooking. This is typically accomplished at around 131 °F to 140 °F for meats and higher for vegetables. Currently a number of other states around the country use this method of cooking. Those legislative bodies updated health regulations to allow the sous-vide, Connecticut has never broached the subject.

Gary Ashley, of Club Managers Association and the General Manager of Riverside Yacht Club testified before the committee stating, “The intention is to cook the item evenly, ensuring that the inside is properly cooked without overcooking the outside, and retain moisture. Whenever you see a perfectly cooked medium rare filet mignon uniformly from one side to the other and top to bottom, you can be sure that sous vide was involved.”

The bill would amend state law to allow a food service establishment to package and process food using reduced-oxygen packaging, provided there are at least two controls in place, including, but not limited to, time, temperature, Aw or pH, to prevent the growth and formulation of C. botulinum or Listeria momocytogenes. State health inspectors would be involved in updating regulations and additionally curriculum for chefs would be available.

“Federal Food Safety Regulations permit sous vide cooking as does New York City and many other cities around the country. It has been proven safe, and it is an incredible advantage for anyone in the restaurant business or any business that serves high volume, high quality food on demand,” added Sen. Frantz. “Allowing this cooking technique to take place in Connecticut restaurants will serve to enhance the products they put forth and make Connecticut restaurants even more appealing than they are now.”