Surprise, It's Mother's Day
By By Kathy Bernard, Food Safety Education Staff, USDA Food Safety & Inspection Service
Mother’s Day got here faster than you expected and you’re short on time, but you still want to make a special meal for mom. Have you thought about using your microwave? It’s fast, safe and easy.
Microwave ovens can play an important role at mealtime, but special care must be taken when cooking or reheating meat, poultry, fish, and eggs to make sure they are prepared safely. They can cook unevenly and leave "cold spots," where harmful bacteria can survive. For this reason, it is important to be aware of how to use a microwave oven safely to prevent food poisoning, whether you are cooking from scratch or using a frozen convenience meal.
Frozen or Convenience Foods
If you’re using a convenience product, it is important to read and follow the cooking instructions on the package so you’ll know whether you should cook the product in a microwave oven or a conventional oven. You may end up with an undercooked meal and experience food poisoning if you don’t!
Check out our useful tips to help you "Cook It Safe!" when preparing convenience foods.
Cooking From Scratch
If you’re cooking from scratch in a microwave oven, here are a few important food safety tips:
- First of all, don’t forget to check your steps to food safety!
- Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often
- Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate
- Cook : Cook to the right temperature
- Chill: Refrigerate promptly
- 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.
- Arrange food items evenly in a covered dish and add some liquid if needed. Cover the dish with a lid or plastic wrap; loosen or vent the lid or wrap to let steam escape.
- Stir or rotate food midway through the microwaving time to eliminate cold spots where harmful bacteria can survive, and for more even cooking.
- Use a food thermometer or the oven's temperature probe to verify the food has reached a safe minimum internal temperature. Cooking times may vary because ovens vary in power and efficiency. Always allow standing time, which completes the cooking, before checking the internal temperature with a food thermometer.
- Cook foods to the following safe minimum internal temperatures .