Tongue-testing dangerous: microwaves that heat unevenly can pose food safety problems

I expect companies like ConAgra and government agencies like the department of agriculture to blame consumers when their 50 cent pot pies make hundreds of people barf – just follow the instructions.

I don’t expect Consumer Reports to blame the consumer when microwave cooking makes people sick. But I have low expectations, especially of so-called consumer groups.

Consumer Reports latest tests of microwaves found fewer models that aced our evenness test.

When food isn’t cooked evenly to an internal temperature that kills harmful bacteria that might be present, illness can result, according to the USDA. So using a microwave that delivers even heating is important.

You’ll need to cook food longer if your microwave’s wattage is lower than the cooking instructions requires. Our Ratings indicate wattage, and you’ll find it on the serial number plate on the back of the microwave, inside the microwave door, or in the owner’s manual.

The USDA also recommends using a food thermometer to test food in several spots, but the survey found most people don’t, and nearly a third said nothing would change their mind. Using a food thermometer is a good idea, but at the very least, make sure there are no cold spots in your food.

How? With your tongue? Frozen foods that are going to be cooked in the microwave should contain pre-cooked ingredients.