Microwave ovens can play an important role at mealtime, but special care must be taken when cooking or reheating meat, poultry, fish, and eggs to make sure they are prepared safely. Microwave ovens can cook unevenly and leave “cold spots,” where harmful bacteria can survive. For this reason, it is important to use the following safe microwaving tips to prevent food-borne illness.
1. Arrange food items evenly in a covered dish and add some liquid if needed. Cover the dish with a lid or plastic wrap; loosen or vent the lid or wrap to let steam escape.
2. Large cuts of meat should be cooked on medium power (50%) for longer periods. This allows heat to reach the center without overcooking outer areas.
3. Stir or rotate food midway through the microwaving time to eliminate cold spots where harmful bacteria can survive.
4. Remove food from packaging before defrosting. Do not use foam trays and plastic wraps because they are not heat stable at high temperatures.
5. Cook meat, poultry, egg casseroles, and fish immediately after defrosting in the microwave oven because some areas of the frozen food may begin to cook during the defrosting time.
Reheating In The Microwave
6. Cover foods with a lid or a microwave-safe plastic wrap to hold in moisture and provide safe, even heating.
7. After reheating foods in the microwave oven, allow standing time. Then, use a clean food thermometer to check that food has reached 165° F.
8. Only use cookware that is specially manufactured for use in the microwave oven and that is labeled for microwave oven use.
9. Plastic storage containers such as margarine tubs, take- out containers, whipped topping bowls, and other one-time use containers should not be used in microwave ovens. These containers can warp or melt, possibly causing harmful chemicals to migrate into the food.
10. Microwave plastic wraps, wax paper, cooking bags, parchment paper, and white microwave-safe paper towels should be safe to use. Do not let plastic wrap touch foods during microwaving.