Safest Ways To Reheat Leftovers And Avoid Food Poisoning

Safest Ways To Reheat Leftovers And Avoid Food Poisoning

The microwave is everyone’s go-to when it comes to reheating the previous night’s dinner, but you should take extra care to make sure those leftovers are safe enough to be today’s lunch. Here’s how.

Image by peapod labs.

Food poisoning is never fun, so the key to killing the bacteria responsible for foodborne illnesses is heat. That’s why you want to make sure to get that food piping hot. So, rather than just setting it in the microwave and forgetting it, pay a little more attention to your reheating process with these suggestions:

  • Promote uniform heating: Before placing leftovers in the microwave, lay the food all out evenly in a microwave-friendly dish to promote uniform cooking and then cover it to hold in moisture.
  • Heat meat thoroughly: Debone meat, as bones can keep meat from heating properly. Even ready-to-eat foods should be reheated to a fully hot temperature.
  • Use the right power level: Set power level according to the type and size of food item. Lower powers are good for things like eggs and oats, as well as for larger chunks of meat for longer periods. Note that power levels will vary depending on your microwave’s wattage.
  • Give it a stir: Midway through the cooking process, pause and take out the food to give it a stir and flip it around. Do this even if your microwave has a turntable.

One interesting to note is that the food continues to cook for a bit even after removing food from the microwave because, thanks to our old friend carry-over cooking. The end result and taste, on the other hand, are a whole other matter, though.

Microwave Ovens and Food Safety [United States Department of Agriculture]