Microwaving your Meals: Skipping 1 Important Step Can Make You Sick

An outbreak of Salmonella that sickened 44 people highlights the need for consumers to follow all directions when it comes to microwaving food – including letting food stand out after cooking.

The outbreak occurred in the summer of 2010. People in 18 states were sickened with a type of bacteria called Salmonella enterica. The outbreak was later linked with the consumption of the Marie Callender’s frozen chicken-and-rice meals, which were later recalled.

Most of the people fell ill as a result of cooking the meal in the microwave, but not all of them let the meal stand for the recommended time in the microwave before consuming.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, microwave standing time is part of the cooking process and consumers should not only follow instructions for microwaving, but should also allow the product to stand for the recommended time before consuming.

If you thought that the recommendation on the box to let the meal stand in the microwave for 1-2 minutes was just to prevent burning, you are mistaken, just like many of us.

A common feature of foodborne-illness outbreaks linked with frozen meals is the misconception that these foods are ready to eat, and just need to be reheated. But often, microwave cooking is a “critical control point to ensure raw and uncooked ingredients…reach a sufficient temperature to render them safe from microbial hazards,” the CDC said.

Manufacturers should clearly label products as “not ready to eat” and provide step-by-step cooking instructions on frozen meals that account for variability in microwave wattage.

If you or a loved one has been seriously sickened as a result of consuming a contaminated or recalled product, contact us today.

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