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Food Safety: Using a Microwave Oven to Cook

People are busier than ever these days, and while it is not uncommon to come home and toss a meal in the microwave, not everyone is aware of the risks to food safety associated with this habit. This article discusses how to properly prepare food while using a microwave. Your food will not only taste delicious, but it will be safe, too!

Prepare the Food to Be Microwaved

One of the most important ways to keep your food safe when cooking it in a microwave is to actually make sure that it has been prepared properly before being placed in the microwave? But why do you need to prepare the food beforehand, you may ask. Isn't this what the microwave is for--to cook the food? While a microwave can do wonders when used properly, it is essential that you provide it with a good head start. This means you should defrost all meats, poultry, and chicken before placing in the microwave in order to ensure thorough cooking. In addition, use common sense to make sure that all food is cooked evenly and reaches the desired level of doneness at the same time. To do this, you can use a few different means--first, make sure that if you are cooking vegetables or other small pieces of food, that they are all similar in size. This allows for similar cooking time, and prevents some foods from being overcooked. If you are cooking one large piece of food, such as a chicken breast, try to make sure the food is as evenly distributed as possible--this means flattening the chicken down so that it is the same thickness on all sides.

Watch the Food Closely

Next, when cooking food in the microwave, make sure to keep a close eye on it. It is easy enough to simply throw the meal in the microwave, press a few buttons, and hope for the best--but if you want your food to taste great and be safe to eat, it is essential that you stay nearby. For best results, set the timer for only short periods of time, and check the food after each time period is up.

Check the Food Before Eating

As discussed above, it is important to check your food before eating in order to make sure that it has been thoroughly cooked and is safe to eat. To do this, you can use a variety of methods--the safest and most accurate way involves purchasing a food thermometer and using it to test your food. Ideally, all meats should reach an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and vegetables should be cooked to a temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If, however, you don't have a food thermometer handy, you can still check your food's doneness but cutting into the center of the piece, and examining it. This is especially important for meat--if the inside of the item is still pink or translucent, it needs to be cooked longer.

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