Tip of the Day
Food Safety in the Microwave
Nine in ten American kitchens have microwave ovens. Because so many households use these appliances daily to prepare foods, especially during the holiday season, now is the perfect time for a reminder on how to ensure food safety when cooking in the microwave.
When cooking prepared food in the microwave, follow the microwave cooking instructions on the package closely, just as you would before cooking something in the oven or on the stovetop. It takes more than pushing the two minute button and waiting until the food is hot.
Microwave cooking instructions typically include:
- Stir step. Stirring food midway through the microwaving time promotes even cooking and helps to eliminate possible cold spots where harmful bacteria can survive.
- Stand or rest step. Allowing the food to "rest" or "stand" allows for the cooking time to be completed. During the "rest or stand" time, the temperature of the food item can rise several degrees.
- Recommended internal temperature. Remember that all foods have different safe minimum internal cooking temperatures. Find out what temperature your dish should be cooked to. To test the temperature of the meal, start by placing the tip of a food thermometer in the thickest part of the food. Be sure to take the temperature in several locations. Again, temperatures within the food may vary because microwaves may not heat evenly.
A downloadable list of safe microwave tips and safe minimum internal temperatures for foods can be found at www.HomeFoodSafety.org.
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