Convenience Foods – Cook it Safe
When it’s time to eat, many people reach for convenience foods such as a frozen meal or container of soup. They typically pop it in the microwave or conventional oven to “warm up.” They never give a second thought to read and follow the “cooking” preparation instructions on the package.
However, there is a big difference between warming and cooking food – and that difference is safety! The manufacturer’s cooking instructions are based on the individual product, specifically the food ingredients and how it was processed for sale. Cooked food is safe when it has been heated to a high enough temperature, as measured with a reliable food thermometer, to destroy harmful bacteria that can cause food-borne illness.
Use this chart and a reliable food thermometer to make sure your food has reached the proper minimum internal temperature before consuming. Also remember to allow standing time for microwave ovens and rest time for other cooking methods. The extra step will help maintain or increase the temperature which is necessary to ensure harmful organisms have been destroyed.
Follow these four simple steps from the United States Department of Agriculture to make sure you cook food properly to ensure a safe and wholesome product.
✔ Read and follow the food package instructions for preparation and cooking.
✔ Understand how different cooking appliances work and when to use a microwave or conventional oven.
✔ Know your microwave oven’s wattage. Microwave ovens vary in their wattage or power level. Most microwave ovens have a wattage between 600 to 1,200 watts. The higher the wattage, the faster the food will cook. The wattage will be displayed on the inside of the microwave oven door, owner’s manual or manufacturer’s website.
✔ Always use a food thermometer to make sure the food has reached the proper minimum internal temperature.