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Cook it Fast in a Microwave Oven

Many households have a microwave oven. These small appliances are energy-efficient, take up little space in your kitchen and speed up food preparation. However, food safety experts have found that not everyone follows safe food-handling rules when using the microwave.
Cook it Fast in a Microwave Oven

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Which of the follow safe food-handling rules are true when you use a microwave oven?

  1. I read and follow the cooking instructions on the package.
  2. I Stir and rotate food half way through cooking (to prevent hot/cold spots).
  3. I observe the recommended "standing time." (Food continues to cook for a while after it is removed from the microwave oven.)
  4. I use a food thermometer to be sure my food has reached a safe temperature.
  5. I use microwave-safe containers when I heat food.

If you never, or only sometimes, follow these rules check out the New Learning Tool about microwave cooking mentioned at the end of this article.

Safe container for microwave oven use:

  • Glass, ceramic cookware and those labeled safe for microwave use
  • Microwave-safe plastic wraps, wax paper. cooking bags, parchment paper, and white microwave-safe paper towels
  • Note: Discard containers that hold prepared microwavable meals after you use them because they are meant for one-time use.

Not safe for microwave oven use:

  • Margarine tubs, whipped topping bowls
  • Take-out containers from restaurants (unless they say "microwave-safe")
  • Foam-insulated trays and plastic wraps

New Learning Tool

Did you know that you can determine the "hot spots" in you microwave oven using mini-marshmallows? Visit to read the interactive online magazine (zmag) about microwave cooking. It includes videos (including the "marshmallow test"), recipes and other information. Complete the survey at the end to be eligible for prize drawings.


By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Featured in Food Wise May 2014 newsletter (PDF)

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