October 25, 2011

Know when to use a Microwave or Conventional Oven: A message from the USDA’s “Cook it Safe” Campaign

Busy parents appreciate how hectic the after-five routine can be, especially when hungry mouths are staring at you and wondering when dinner will be served.   Many Americans’ freezers are stocked with trusted meals sure to put a smile on any kid’s face.  While the shortest distance between the freezer and the table may be the microwave oven, not all frozen foods can be cooked in the microwave.  The package instructions specify which type of appliance will cook your family’s favorite frozen meal safely and deliciously.

The USDA and partners have just kicked off the “Cook It Safe?? campaign, urges consumers to take the time to read package instructions and properly cook pre-packaged meals, whether or not they are microwaveable.  Prevent foodborne illness due to undercooking frozen or other pre-packaged meals with these four simple tips:

1.)    Read and follow all of the package cooking instructions

2.)    Know When to Use a Microwave or Conventional Oven

3.)    Know Your Microwave Wattage before Microwaving Food

4.)    Always Use a Food Thermometer to Ensure a Safe Internal Temperature

It is important to use the cooking appliance that the manufacturer recommends on the food package instructions, whether the instructions call for cooking in a conventional oven, convection oven, toaster oven, or microwave. Package cooking instructions are calibrated for a specific type of appliance and may not be applicable to all ovens.  Some frozen foods may appear to be fully cooked but actually consist of raw, uncooked product, and it may be tempting to cook these foods quickly in a microwave, they must be cooked according to manufacturer’s instructions.

After cooking in any type of appliance, always use a food thermometer to be sure the product has reached the recommended safe temperature to help prevent any risk of foodborne illness.

The USDA has created a several fun videos demonstrating these tips.  Check back at the International Food Information Council’s blog and @IFICMedia on Twitter for more information on health, nutrition and food safety.

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