Use only microwave safe containers when cooking and reheating foods

Beware – not all food containers should be used in microwave.

The accessibility and convenience of microwave ovens make them a great choice for cooking and reheating food. Whether at home, work, school, college dorm, traveling in your camper or staying at a hotel, microwaves are usually readily available. With so many consumers utilizing microwaves Michigan State University Extension promotes safe food handling practices, especially when selecting proper containers to place inside a microwave.

Many food containers are not safe for use in a microwave oven. Manufacturers label safe cups, bowls and plates stating “microwave safe.” Containers that do not have this label should not be used in the microwave. If you have ever been surprised by how hot a plate or bowl can become after being removed from a microwave, you know not all containers distribute heat the same. Glass and ceramic containers, along with plastic utensils that are labeled “microwave safe” are good choices. Do not use glass or ceramic that contains a metal rim.

If you cannot find a label indicating the bowl or plate is microwave safe you can test it using these instructions:

  1. Place the empty container you want to test inside the microwave.
  2. Place a second container with one cup of tap water inside the microwave.
  3. Heat on high for one minute then carefully test the temperature of the empty container.

If the empty container is cool it is microwave safe; if it is slightly warm only use this container for reheating. If the container is hot it is not microwave safe and should not be used in the microwave.

Be sure to remove food stored in take-out containers, plastic cold-storage containers or on a polystyrene tray and transfer to a microwave safe container before reheating or cooking. Food packaging containers are not safe for use in a microwave as they were not designed for exposure to heat. It is not safe to heat food in plastic bags, brown paper bags, on paper towel, paper napkins or a colored paper plate. All of these items can emit chemicals that can migrate into food.

Microwaves provide a quick and convenient cooking option however food is only safe to eat if the food container used is designed specifically for heat. Consumers should always use safe microwave reheating information to ensure proper internal food temperatures to prevent “cold spots” in your food which are a haven for harmful bacteria.

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