09 May 2012

FAQ: Do microwaves kill bacteria?

Can bacteria survive microwaves?


Can bacteria survive microwaves (as in a microwave oven)?

It's the heating effect of microwaves that kill bacteria, not the microwaves themselves. Whether bacteria survive depends on how long you heat your food and at what temperature. The core temperature of cooked food should be at least 60 degrees C. Higher (70 - 75 degrees C) is even safer, especially if you've only reheated an item for a couple of minutes.

With microwave ovens, it's important to make sure food is evenly cooked, so read your appliance instructions about stirring and positioning food items correctly.

Remember that if food has already gone off, it will likely contain toxins produced by microbes in the food, and these can still remain in the food and make you sick even if you heat it and kill the microbes.

- Olivia Rose-Innes, EnviroHealth Editor, Health24, April 2012 


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Exercise benefits for seniors »

Working out in the concrete jungle Even a little exercise may help prevent dementia Here’s an unexpected way to boost your memory: running

Seniors who exercise recover more quickly from injury or illness

When sedentary older adults got into an exercise routine, it curbed their risk of suffering a disabling injury or illness and helped them recover if anything did happen to them.