by Michael Rich

Cooking, reheating and thawing:the microwave is a versatile kitchen tool that is utilized in most households on a daily basis. However, just like any tool, if not used in the proper manner it can cause harm. With the microwave, that harm comes in the form of food-borne illness. The way a microwave works is by using radio waves to accelerate particles in the food, thus heating it. In certain situations this heating process can be uneven, creating an opportunity for destructive bacteria. Follow these steps to eradicate the possibility of bacteria exposure when microwaving.

When cooking food be sure to arrange items evenly in a covered dish. The lid should allow steam to escape while cooking. Also add a little water to help the cooking process.

A microwave can only evenly penetrate about one inch of meat at normal operating temperatures. To overcome this problem cook large pieces of meat on a medium power setting for a longer time period.

Stir or rotate food to eliminate cold spots.

Always remove food from packaging prior to defrosting.

Do not defrost food on foam or in plastic wraps because they are not stable at high temperatures.

Always cook food immediately after defrosting in a microwave.

Cover foods with a lid or a microwave-safe plastic wrap to hold in moisture and provide safe, even heating.

After reheating foods in the microwave oven, allow standing time. Then, use a clean food thermometer to check that food has reached 165° F.