Safe Preparation of Foods Using the Microwave

Microwave ovens make it simple to prepare hot meals, but it's important to use them properly to ensure food safety.
Safe Preparation of Foods Using the Microwave
October 21, 2019

A microwave oven is more than just a wonderful modern time saver that makes it a simple process to cook, serve, and eat hot meals.

It’s also a highly versatile appliance that is capable of cooking food just as efficiently as any other method. It’s even able to do so while preserving essential vitamins and nutrients.

However, as is the case with the use of other appliances, it’s important to observe sensible safety practices when using the microwave. Possible results of the failure to do so can include burns, scalds, and food that is improperly or unevenly cooked.

If food is not cooked properly, it could cause food-borne illness. 

Reheating food in the microwave

As convenient as microwaves can be, they don’t always do the best job of thoroughly and evenly cooking food. The parts of the food that don’t get hot enough can contain harmful bacteria that cause food poisoning and serious illness.

  • Unless you’re cooking a meal that is meant to be cooked from frozen, make sure frozen food is thoroughly thawed before cooking. Cold spots allow bacteria to breed.
  • Shallow containers allow for more even cooking in the microwave, so use those whenever possible.
  • Stir or rotate food halfway through the cooking process.
  • Use a microwave-safe lid when cooking in the microwave to ensure more even cooking.
  • Cut food into small pieces before microwaving, as it’s more likely to cook thoroughly and evenly.

Cooking frozen food properly in the microwave

Many frozen foods, such as pre-packaged or ready-made meals, are designed to be cooked from frozen in the microwave. Be sure to do the following to ensure frozen meals are cooked all the way through:

  • Know your microwave wattage before cooking from frozen (check inside the door of the microwave or in the manual to find out). Depending on the wattage, your microwave may cook faster or slower than others.
  • Follow the instructions specified on the packaging (the product manufacturer will be able to give you the best advice on how to cook the product to ensure food safety and quality.)
  • Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of the food when you think it's ready (insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the food). Food should be reheated to 75°C or higher.

Avoid burns and injury

Always take care to guard against injury when handling hot foods.

  • Never use the microwave to heat baby bottles.
  • When wrapping food to be cooked, leave an exit for the steam to escape.
  • Use oven mitts or gloves to help protect your hands from over-hot dishes.
  • Never microwave eggs in their shells, as they will explode.