Microwave safety assured

June 30, 2008

Photo courtesy of http://www.plasticsinfo.org

One of the by-products of being a food writer is that people often ask me to confirm or deny food and cooking stories and rumours. Such was the case recently when my mother’s boyfriend John asked me if I’d heard that if you consistently open a microwave before it stops beeping that you could be exposed to unhealthy levels of radiation. I hadn’t heard this bit of info but it concerned me so I sent an e-mail to a couple of PR folks I know who handle appliance accounts asking for an interview with a microwave expert.

I eventually secured an interview with Jimmy Chang, the Director of Marketing for Panasonic Canada who put my fears to rest.

“Microwave ovens emit less radiation than a cell phone,” Chang pointed out.

Health Canada stipulates that no microwave oven sold in Canada can emit more than 2 milliwatts of radiation per square centimetre and Panasonic microwaves, Chang says, aren’t sold if they emit more than 1 milliwatt.

To ensure your microwave operates as safely today as the day you took it out of the box, Chang advises that you keep the seal on the microwave door in tip-top condition. One of his top tips is to clean inside the unit but also around the seal that aligns with the microwave door with soapy water to prevent food from getting stuck in the seal. Food build up can create gaps in the seal which can allow the emission of more radiation than is considered safe.

If my comments above now have you worried about your cell phone, I can tell you that although I know very little about how cell phone radiation works, I do know that this infamous Youtube video that shows cell phones emitting enough energy to pop corn is 100% a hoax.

PS: since we’re on the subject of microwaves and food safety, I recommend you take all of your plastic-related microwave oven questions to:


Do you have a food safety or cooking question you’d like answered? Jot them below and I’ll do my best to point you in the direction of answers.