Sue Snider: I am Sue Snider, University of Delaware, department of Animal and Food Sciences. We are going to be talking about choosing containers when preparing foods in the microwave. There are some containers that are not appropriate to use and those would be things like your metals because they reflect the microwaves. So you want to choose something thats going to transmit microwaves such as glass, paper or plastic. However, not all of these products are created equal. Some are safe and some are not. So let's talk about plastic first. You need to select a plastic whether it is a container or a plastic wrap that says that it's microwave safe. Some microwave containers will not stand up to microwaving and they will melt causing migration of harmful microwaves into the food. These kinds of products include things like reusable tubs that people many times reuse, refrigerator containers, margarine containers, whipped-topping containers those should never be used in the microwave oven. Once you microwave food in a tray that has come as a microwavable food, you do not want to reuse that and in fact, on the label it will say, 'Do not reuse.
' Those are meant to be disposable, thats what you should do. Styrofoam is also something else that should not be used in the microwave. It melts and harmful chemicals can be transferred into the food and paper is another product that should not be used in the microwave to a great extent. Now you can use microwavable paper towels to wrap foods, but things like paper bags, I would caution you about using them from the standpoint that its very easy for them to catch on fire and so fire becomes a hazard. So brown paper bags from the grocery store should not be used in the microwave. Now when it comes to glass and ceramic, you really need to take care in selecting them. For the most part, they are microwavable, but they may not be. You can determine this simply by using a little test. What you need to do is to take the glass container such as we have here, place it in your microwave and heat it for one minute. Now I would caution you, you probably need to put a little bit of water or something in another container so that you dont damage your microwave, but you dont want to put any food in the glass container. You microwave it for a minute, if it's cool, it's safe to use, if it's just lukewarm, slightly warm you can use for that reheating foods, but if it has got any warmth at all, you do not want to test it. We have talked about selecting of appropriate containers that plastic, glass, paper can be used in the microwave if they are labeled as such; we want to stay away from disposable plastic and those plastics that are not are labeled as microwave safe. Next we are going to be talking about preparing food safely in the microwave oven to prevent food-borne illness due to microorganisms.