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Vacuum Sealing Without a Variance

Updated: Jan 15


Many food service facilities still have and use vacuum packers for cooking, marinating, and preserving freshness. Some vacuum sealing such as sous vide, can be done in the facility with proper documentation and a 48 hour time limit on the bag being sealed. If you only leave the food (except fish) in the sealed bag for less than 48 hours, it is technically not considered reduced oxygen packaging (ROP.) Exceeding 48 hours in a sealed bag will require continuous electronic monitoring of refrigeration, a variance and/or a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan.

Sous Vide

Can you do it? Yes.

With this method, fresh, raw ingredients or partially cooked ingredients are vacuum-sealed in an impermeable plastic bag. The bag is then cooked at typically lower temperatures in a water bath.

No HACCP plan or variance required. Sous vide held less than 48 hour under vacuum.

  • Product is vacuum sealed prior to or after cooking, cooling or reheating.

  • Product is labeled with the time and date placed in bag under vacuum.

  • Product is removed from bag or seal broken within 48 hours of bag being sealed.

  • Product is stored at 41F or less

  • Once removed from bag ensure proper date marking is applied to product. The seven day shelf life begins the day the product was packed and sealed.

  • Fish is not included in this exemption. There are stricter rules surrounding the ROP process and fish. This is because C. botulinum is found in all species. Fish is required to be frozen before, during and after being packaged, even if it is in the bag less than 48 hours.

This video:

This product looks to have a marinade added before it was vacuum sealed.

Each package is documented with time in the bag and date as noted with the blue tape.

Once the product reaches the desired temperature, it is removed from the hot water bath and rapidly cooled in an ice bath.This facility documented time product went into the ice bath to ensure proper cooling parameters are met.

Additional Resources

Food Code Fact Sheet #3 Variances

OAR 333-150-0000, 3-502.11 and 12 Reduced Oxygen Packaging (ROP) Overview


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