Cooking a frozen pot pie in a microwave

This is a ConAgra Banquet turkey pot pie Amy and I purchased the evening of Oct. 9, 2007 and kept in the freezer. It had the P-9 code on the side — the ones implicated in the Salmonella outbreak —  and on sale, 2-for-$1.

This is me in our kitchen on Monday Oct. 8, preparing Thanksgiving (Canadian) chicken for guests. Note the white microwave in the back left corner.

This is our GE Turntable microwave oven cooking the turkey pot pie at 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 10, 2007. I have no idea what the wattage is.

The front of the pot pie package includes statements such as:

Ready in 4 minutes; microwavable
And
KEEP FROZEN
COOK THOROUGHLY

The microwave cooking instructions on the back state:
For food safety and quality, follow these cooking directions:
Microwave Oven
(fine print: Ovens vary; cooking time may need to be adjusted.)
1. Place tray on microwave-safe plate; slit top crust.
I could not slit the top crust. It was frozen solid.
2. Microwave on High.
(Med. OR High Wattage Microwave 4 mins.
Low Wattage Microwave 6 mins).


This is the turkey pot pie after 4 minutes on high in the microwave. I was able to slit the crust. The temperature stabilized around 48 F. I must have a low wattage microwave.


The is the turkey pot pie after 6 minutes on high in the microwave. Near the surface, the temperature registers at 204 F (left). However, the temperature lowered as I moved the probe to the center. Temperature approximately 127 F (right).

The microwave cooking instructions also state:

3. Let Stand 3 minutes. Carefully remove as Product will be hot.

After 3 standing for 3 minutes the interior of the pot pie reaches 148 F. The recommended safe end-point temperature for poultry is 165 F.

This is the pot pie after 6 minutes in the microwave on high, standing for 3 minutes, followed by an additional 2 minutes in the microwave on high; 194 F.

I eat the pot pie.

This is completely anecdotal and in no way representative. However, as my research colleague Randy Phebus just posted on barfblog.com:

"Why any food product containing raw ingredients of any kind (actually, in this case the chicken cubes were fully cooked, but the veggies and dough were not) would have microwaving as a primary preparation procedure, particularly when starting from a completely frozen state. Microwave heating of this type of product would no doubt be variable, and particularly when you look at all the different types of microwave ovens out there. Perhaps the message that we should be spreading is that microwaves should only be used to heat pre-cooked products. Then, we also need to address the almost universal ambiguity in prep instructions on food packages.  What do consumers really understand, or better what do they not understand, about these written label instructions?  One other important bit…are the label instructions always properly validated for their food safety effectiveness in the first place?"