Microwave Misconception Zapped

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HOME FOOD SAFETY MYTHBUSTERS’ ZAPS MICROWAVE MISCONCEPTION
Partnership for Food Safety Education Puts Heat on Harmful Bacteria with New Programming

Microwaving, nuking, zapping – whatever you call it – usinga microwave oven to cook or reheat foods can be fast andconvenient, but it’s not effective at killing harmful bacteria if the food isn’t heated to a safe internal temperature, according to the non-profit Partnership for Food Safety Education.
The Partnership, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and anetwork of retailers across the U.S., is launching its annualHome Food Safety Mythbusters, a popular program for consumers and health educators, in time for September’s National Food Safety Education Month.

“Food safety education is a critical part of our publichealth prevention strategy,” said Michael R. Taylor, DeputyCommissioner for Foods at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Everyone along the farm-to-tablechain growers, manufacturers, transporters, retailers andconsumers has a responsibility for food safety.”

The misconception that the microwaves — rather than the heat that microwave ovens generate – kill bacteria is one ofthis year’s four featured myths.The myths are presented withthe facts consumers need to know to reduce their risk of foodpoisoning.

  • MYTH:”If I microwave food, the microwaves kill the bacteria, so the food is safe.”

Fact: Microwaves aren’t what kill bacteria – it’s theheat generated by microwaves that kills bacteria in foods. Microwave ovens are great time-savers and will kill bacteria in foods when heated to a safe internal temperature. However, foods can cook unevenly because they may be shaped irregularly or vary in thickness.Even microwave ovensequipped with a turntable can cook unevenly and leave cold spots in food, where harmful bacteria can survive.

Be sure to follow package instructions and rotate andstir foods during the cooking process, if the instructionscall for it. Observe any stand times as called for in thedirections. Check the temperature of microwaved foods with afood thermometer in several spots.

posted by Tiffany Haslacker