Revised by Pamela Schmutz, HGIC Food Safety Specialist, and Angela Fraser, Extension Food Safety Specialist, Clemson University. Originally prepared by Pamela Schmutz, HGIC Food Safety Specialist, and Elizabeth Hoyle, Extension Food Safety Specialist, Clemson University. (New 02/99. Revised 06/11.)
There are traits unique to microwave cooking that affect how evenly and safely food is cooked. “Cold spots” can occur because of the irregular way the microwaves enter the oven and are absorbed by the food. If food does not cook evenly, bacteria may survive and cause foodborne illness. Simple techniques ensure that food is microwaved safely.
If you are not sure if pottery or dinnerware is microwave safe, place the empty utensil in the microwave alongside a cup of water in a glass measure. Microwave on high for 1 minute. If the dish remains cool, it is safe to microwave. If the dish gets warm or hot to the touch, do not use.Safe Utensils for Microwave Cooking: These include glass and glass ceramic cookware and those labeled for microwave use. Do not use metal or aluminum foil containers in the microwave. They can get too hot and burn.
Wraps & Bags: Wax paper, oven cooking bags, parchment paper and white microwave paper towels are safe to use. Put microwave-safe plastic wrap loosely over food so that steam can escape, and do not let it directly touch your food. The moist heat will help destroy harmful bacteria. Never use brown paper or plastic grocery bags, newspapers, aluminum foil, or thin plastic storage bags in the microwave.
Containers Not Intended for the Microwave Oven: Margarine tubs, whipped topping bowls, cheese containers and others can warp or melt from hot food, possibly causing harmful chemicals to get in the food. Do not use carry-out containers from restaurants or Styrofoam for the same reason. Foam insulated trays and plastic wraps on fresh meats in grocery stores are not intended for the microwave oven. Discard containers that hold prepared microwavable meals after you use them because they are meant for one-time use.
For more information on microwave safety, see HGIC 3610, Food Safety Tips for Kids.
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