Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Myth: Children shouldn’t use microwaves.

Answer: BUSTED!

Your child can use a microwave safely, but some important tips need to be taught first.

Some foods don’t heat evenly in the microwave, which means that harmful bacteria can be present and may make your child sick. Follow these steps to ensure that food is cooked properly:
  1. Read package directions carefully. Know the wattage of your microwave oven. Help your child know whether to use the minimum or maximum cooking time on food package directions.
  2. Use microwave-safe cookware. What not to put in microwaves: metal or foil-wrapped foods; cold storage containers, such as margarine tubs, cottage cheese cartons, or bowls from frozen whipped topping. (The containers can melt and transfer harmful chemicals into the food.)
  3. For more even cooking and to better destroy bacteria, cover dishes with a lid, plastic wrap or wax paper. Turn up one corner to let steam escape while food is microwaving.
  4. Halfway through cooking, rotate food packages and dishes or stir food, even if the oven has a turntable. This helps the food cook more evenly and safely.
  5. Allow food heated in a microwave to stand for at least 2 minutes. This helps the heat to be transferred throughout the food for thorough heating.

Other tips to ensure safety:
  1. Use pot holders to remove dishes from the microwave.
  2. Steam can burn. Be careful when removing container lids or plastic wrap.
  3. When reheating leftovers or packaged food, use a food thermometer to make sure food has reached 165° F, a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria.
  4. Stir all hot drinks, soups and other similar foods before drinking or eating to prevent burning the mouth.

Adapted from: Food Safety After School, FSIS, accessed 10/6/2011 at

For more food safety information go to

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension,, 573-882-1933

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