According to a study from Michigan State University, microwaves, even those with a turntable inside, can cook unevenly and leave cold spots where harmful bacteria can survive.

It is important to remember that microwaves don’t kill bacteria unless the food is heated long enough. Microwave cooking can be uneven just as with frying and grilling.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) estimates that over 90 percent of American homes have at least one microwave oven. Everyone knows what great time savers microwaves are, but microwaves will only kill bacteria and keep food safe when foods are heated to a safe internal temperature.

Here are some helpful tips from the Michigan State University Extension recommends following to ensure your microwaved food is safe:

  • Reheat foods to a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit and confirm the temperature with a thermometer in several areas of the food.
  • Follow the package instruction for heating the food, including both the cooking and standing times listed. The standing time is how long food should stand before it is eaten. Standing time is an important part of the cooking process and should be followed so food is cooked to a safe temperature.
  • Cover food that is being heated in the microwave.
  • Stir food and rotate during the heating process to help decrease the hot spots that arise due to uneven cooking.
  • Only reheat or cook foods in the microwave in containers that are labeled “safe for use in microwave.”
  • Keep your microwave clean and maintained.

For more information on microwave food safety, visit the USDA’s Cooking with Microwave Ovens page.

About MSU Extension

Michigan State University Extension’s mission is to help people improve their lives through an educational process that applies knowledge to critical issues, needs, and opportunities. 

To learn more about MSU Extension, visit their webpage.

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