Microwave Oven Safety Tips

Microwave

Everyone loves this appliance and it surely does help make life simpler when it comes to cooking, heating, reheating or defrosting food. But it can also be dangerous if not used properly. Here are some helpful tips to make using the microwave safer:

  • Do not turn your oven on when it is empty because microwaves may damage the cavity. If you accidentally turn an empty oven on, leave a cup of water in it to absorb the microwaves
  • Don’t use the microwave for deep-frying, canning, or heating baby bottles. These applications don’t allow adequate temperature control for safe results.
  • Stay with the oven when microwaving popcorn, for heat buildup can cause a fire. Time heating per instructions but lean toward the shorter time (some ovens can scorch popcorn in two minutes).
  • Don’t dry or disinfect clothing or other articles in the microwave because of the risk of fire.
  • Use only microwave-safe utensils. Hot food melts some plastics, such as margarine tubs, causing migration of package constituents. It’s a good idea to use glass for fatty foods, which get particularly hot, though not all glass and ceramics are microwave-safe.
  • Here’s a quick test for glass: Microwave the empty container for one minute. It’s unsafe for the microwave if it’s warm; it’s OK for reheating if it’s lukewarm; and it’s OK for actual cooking if it’s cool.

Power testing: The following test is used for gauging energy output: Fill a glass measuring cup with exactly 1 cup of tap water. Microwave, uncovered, on “high” until water begins to boil. If boiling occurs in: wattage is: less than 3 minutes 600 to 700 3 to 4 minutes 500 to 600 more than 4 minutes less than 500 watts

Checking For Leakage: There is little concern about excess microwaves leaking from ovens unless the door hinges, latch, or seals are damaged. If you suspect a problem, contact the oven manufacturer; a microwave oven service organization; your state health department; or the closest FDA office, which you can locate online by visiting www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/district.html

Erupted Hot Water Phenomena: Hot-water eruption can occur if you use a microwave oven to super-heat water in a clean cup. (“Super-heated” means the water is hot beyond boiling temperature, although it shows no signs of boiling.)

A slight disturbance or movement may cause the water to violently explode out of the cup. There have been reports of serious skin burns or scalding injuries around people’s hands and faces as a result of this phenomenon.

Adding materials such as instant coffee or sugar to the water before heating greatly reduces the risk of hot-water eruption. Also, follow the precautions and recommendations found in microwave oven instruction manuals; specifically the heating time.

  • Microwave ovens can cook unevenly and leave “cold spots” where harmful bacteria can survive. Always allow standing time, which completes the cooking, before checking the internal temperature with a food thermometer.
  • Arrange food items evenly in a covered dish and add some liquid if needed. Cover with a lid; vent to let steam escape. The moist heat will help destroy harmful bacteria and ensure uniform cooking.
  • Always stir or rotate food midway through the microwaving time.
  • Cook foods immediately after defrosting in the microwave.
  • Eggs cannot be cooked in the shell. They will explode.
  • Do not heat oil or fat for deep fat frying. Potatoes, tomatoes, egg yolks, and other foods with a skin or membrane must be pierced before they are micro waved. This allows the steam to escape and keeps them from exploding.
  • Popcorn should be cooked only in special microwave poppers carefully following manufacturer’s recommendations. Do not pop popcorn in paper bags or glass utensils.
  • Remove food from packaging before defrosting.
  • Only use cookware that is specially manufactured for use in the microwave oven. Glass, ceramic containers, and all plastics should be labeled for microwave oven use.
  • Plastic storage containers such as margarine tubs should not be used in microwave ovens as harmful chemicals can migrate into the food.
  • 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.

Microwave Defrosting

  • Remove food from packaging before defrosting. Do not use foam trays and plastic wraps because they are not heat stable at high temperatures. Melting or warping may cause harmful chemicals to migrate into food.
  • 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. Do not hold partially cooked food to use later.
  • Cover foods with a lid or a microwave-safe plastic wrap to hold in moisture and provide safe, even heating.
  • Heat ready-to-eat foods such as hot dogs, luncheon meats, fully cooked ham and leftovers until steaming hot.
  • After reheating foods in the microwave oven, allow standing time. Then, use a clean food thermometer to check that food has reached 165 °F.

Containers & Wraps

  • Only use cookware that is specially manufactured for use in the microwave oven. Glass, ceramic containers, and all plastics should be labeled for microwave oven use.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Never use thin plastic storage bags, brown paper or plastic grocery bags, newspapers, or aluminum foil in the microwave oven.

Information provided by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

 

Todays’ post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald, safety & Security Manager for Plateau

keno@plateautel.com

 

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