Cooking food in Microwave Oven is a modern method that is often associated with various safety concerns and health hazards. So, for your information, we are listing the facts about some common claims.
The domestic microwave ovens operate at a frequency of 2450 MHz with a power that usually ranges from 500 to 1100 watts. When used according to the instructions of the manufacturer, microwave ovens are generally safe and convenient for heating and cooking various foods. Nonetheless, there are many precautions to be taken, also because there is potential of exposure to microwaves, thermal burns and food spoiling. Listed below are the significant dangers and misconceptions of cooking in microwave ovens, followed by safety measures.
- It is important to maintain your oven in good condition, because microwave leakage can occur around damaged, dirty or modified ovens.
- Microwave energy can be absorbed by your body to produce heat and damage to exposed tissues. Sensitive organs like eyes or the testes have a higher risk of damage. However, this kind of thermal damage is only possible in case of long exposure to very high power levels, well in excess of those measured around microwave ovens. Less is known about what happens to people when exposed to low levels of microwaves.
- Using plastic containers and plastic wrap while microwaving in oven can transfer the plastic molecules into food and release dioxins (known carcinogens) and other toxins. Avoid them.
- One should be careful while boiling water in microwave oven, because there may not be any bubbles on the walls of the container like in use of conventional oven, and the water will super-heat and may suddenly boil. This sudden boiling can be triggered by a single bubble in the liquid or by the introduction of a foreign element like a spoon. There are cases where people were severely burned by super-heated water in microwave oven. So do not use excessive amounts of time when heating water or liquids in the microwave oven.
- Certain food items with non-porous surfaces like hotdogs and those composed of materials that heat at different rates like yolk and white of eggs can heat unevenly in microwave oven and may explode. This usually happens when eggs or chestnuts are cooked in their shells.
- It is a common claim that microwave cooking will destroy the nutrients in your food. However, if properly used, the food cooked in a microwave oven is as safe and has the same nutrient value as food cooked in a conventional oven. The main difference between these two methods of cooking is that microwave energy penetrates deeper into the food, reducing the time for heating and overall cooking. Of course, any form of cooking food will destroy some nutrients in food.
- There are beliefs that food cooked in a microwave oven becomes “radioactive”. It is not so, no microwave energy remains in the cavity of the oven or the food after it is switched off. In this respect, microwaves act similar to light; when the light bulb is turned off, no light remains.
- To avoid any mishandling and hazards, microwave oven users should carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. This is more so in case of new ovens that vary widely in design and performance.
- You should inspect your oven regularly for faulty doors, hinges, latches, or seals, even if the door does not open or close properly. If you find any fault or damage, the microwave oven should not be used until repaired by an appropriately qualified service engineer.
- Do not operate an empty oven without any food, because the microwave energy can reflect back into the magnetron and can damage it.
- The food heated/cooked in a microwave oven should rest for several minutes after cooking is completed, because microwave energy does not penetrate well in thicker pieces of food. This is to allow the heat to distribute throughout the food and avoid uneven cooking that is associated with health risks.
Follow the aforementioned guidelines while using microwave oven to ensure healthy cooking for a healthy life.
Electromagnetic fields & public health: Microwave ovens
FDA: Microwave Ovens