Health check: is it safe to microwave your food?

Health check: is it safe to microwave your food?

Although generally recognised as safe, the internet is awash with articles about the dangers microwave radiation poses to your food. Some claim using microwaves can cause “cataracts and cancer”. Other posts says it “zaps the nutrients right out of your food”.

If you believe this, the “killer” oven in your kitchen must be a terrifying sight, but there is actually no research to support the supposed dangers of microwave cooking. Hopefully we can allay your fears by checking some common danger claims against the evidence.

This 'The Conversation' article looks at the following issues with regard to microwave cooking:

- Does it zap the nutrients out?

- Can it give you cancer?

- What about the packaging?

- Does it kill bad bugs?

- Minimising risk


Photo: Microwaves have been used for telecommunications and radar for our entire lifetime, with domestic microwave ovens being in common use for the last 40 years or so. Ovens are designed with interlocks so that the electromagnetic radiation is switched off as soon as the door is opened. While the metal oven enclosure and metal mesh in the glass door blocks the radiation from escaping, it is important to maintain a clean sealing surface between the oven door and the oven enclosure to prevent leakage. You can purchase microwave detectors to check if your microwave oven is operating safely.

The amount of man-made microwave radiation in our environment has rapidly increased in the last few decades, with cell/mobile phones, WiFi and Bluetooth all using the microwave spectrum to transmit information (but at much, much lower power levels than microwave ovens).

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