3 Tips for Safely Heating Food in the Microwave

Monday, October 8, 2012
What are the best and worst containers to use in the microwave?
Brussels sprouts on a plate in the microwave.

At one time or another, you’ve no doubt found yourself standing in front of your microwave, food in hand, asking, “Is this container safe for the microwave?”

But it’s easy to avoid the risk of ruining your food and your health. Just follow these three easy tips for choosing microwave-safe containers:

  1. No metal in the microwave! Plates, bowls, or cups with a metal rim and aluminum foil will create sparks and potentially damage the microwave. This includes cutlery, twist ties and handles on Chinese food take-out boxes.
  2. If using plastic, use “microwave safe” containers or wraps only. Because there is a risk of plastic particles leaching into food during heating, the Food and Drug Administration requires manufacturers to test containers and wraps to ensure that they meet FDA standards and specifications. Look for the words “microwave safe“ or a microwave symbol (there isn’t one standard symbol in use) on the container. Plastic grocery bags, take-out containers and emptied food cartons such as butter and yogurt tubs are not safe as they may warp or melt into your food.
  3. Glass or ceramic containers are the best choice for you and the environment. You do not need special equipment; a glass bowl covering a ceramic plate works. Or you can purchase reusable glass storage containers with snap-on plastic lids in a variety of sizes and shapes that are microwave-, dishwasher-, freezer- and refrigerator-safe.

Protecting your food and health is easy. Follow these simple tips and reheat with confidence.

— Bridget Nichols, MS, dietetic intern, and Debra Boutin, MS, RD, chair and dietetic internship director, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.

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