Using the microwave

Using a microwave oven to thaw, cook and reheat food is practical, quick and safe. A number of people, however, have concerns about microwave cooking. Are they right?

How does a microwave oven work?

Microwaves are actually energy waves that penetrate the food’s water molecules. When microwaves penetrate food, they cause water molecules in the food to rotate. The rotation causes friction between the molecules and the result is a rapid rise in temperature.

Do these microwaves stay in the foods?

When you shut the microwave oven off, the microwaves disappear.

Shoud I worry when the microwave’s working?

The key lies in the microwave’s proper maintenance. If you do, you’re keeping the possible electromagnetic radiation leaks to acceptable levels. According to Health Canada, the release of a certain amount of energy should not pose any health risk as long as you take good care of the oven and opt for a relatively new model.

In fact, since the spring of 2002, no microwave oven that has been inspected has exceeded the radiofrequency energy limit. These may increase if the door or the seal is damaged or if there is an accumulation of dirt around the seal. Health Canada also recommends ensuring the smooth running of all hinges and latches.

Using a microwave oven safely:
  • Keep children (and yourself) away from the microwave oven when it’s working.
  • Always use containers labelled as microwave-safe.
  • Always allow the liquids to rest before serving them to children. Superheated liquids, even if normal in appearance, can erupt suddenly.
  • Stir the food during cooking to avoid overheating.
  • Use protective oven mitts or pot holders when you remove containers/dishware from the oven.
  • Assure the microwave oven’s proper maintenance.
Heating milk
  • Do not use a microwave oven to heat milk, because it heats unevenly and often at too high temperatures. So how can you heat milk? Put the milk container in a hot water recipient for a few minutes, until it’s warm.
  • Shake it gently.
  • Test the temperature of the formula on your own skin before you go ahead with feeding the baby. The milk should be neither hot or cold to the touch.
Reheating purees
  • Reheat purees in a small container labelled as microwave-safe.
  • Stir well once the puree is reheated.
  • Wait about 30 seconds and check the puree’s temperature on the back of your hand or inside your wrist before serving it to your baby.

By following these recommendations, you’ll be able to enjoy the ultra-practical side of the microwave oven with peace of mind.

  • Health Canada website consulted on October 22nd, 2010.
  • Website Guide mieux vivre avec notre enfant de la grossesse à deux ans consulted on October 22nd, 2010.
Nathalie Regimbal

Nathalie Regimbal is a dietician-nutritionist and mother of 3 kids. She oversees Manger Futé, a team of people passionate about diet that empowers those who want to feed children healthily. To demystify nutrition and diet, Nathalie gives advice on the show La Cantine on Channel V. In addition to her collaboration with, you can read her articles in several print and online magazines. Among others, she is a collaborator in nutrition for Yoopa and Célébrons magazines. To make meal time easier for families and initiate kids to cooking, Nathalie has worked hard to write inspiring books: the best-seller Du plaisir à bien manger… 80 recettes gagnantes pour les familles, and the Mandoline series of illustrated cook books for children, the latest one having just won the prestigious prize of the best French Healthy cooking book from the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2010. To help with meal preparation in daycare centres, the team of dieticians at Manger Futé offers classes and coaching. Manger Futé has also published the practical guides Élaborez rapidement un menu équilibré dans votre service de garde and Élaborez rapidement une politique alimentaire. Discover Nathalie Regimbal's books: Du plaisir à bien manger – 80 recettes gagnantes pour les familles Mandoline – J’ai ça dans le sang! Mandoline – Développe tes défenses naturelles!

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