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Microwave myths: The truth behind microwave safety

Microwave myths: The truth behind microwave safety

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- It's a common kitchen appliance, yet some people believe microwaves are bad for your health.

CBS 58's Jacquelyn Abad talked to experts and investigates three microwave myths.

We all know not to put metal in the microwave, and we put it to the test at the UL lab in Northbrook. Within seconds, sparks flew.

In this report, we're zapping some microwave myths. 

Myth one: Microwaving kills nutrients.

UW-Madison food science professor Bradley Bolling says it's not true.

"A microwave is a perfectly find way to warm up food," he said. Bolling says the microwave's heating speed is actually better.

"The short amount of time that it takes to heat up the product can actually preserve a little bit of the nutrition."

Myth two: You can put any dish in the microwave. 

That's false. "It's not safe to assume that all packaging can be used in the microwave," Bolling said.

What can you use?

"Glass or ceramic material that says microwave safe on it. If you have plastic material on hand like a Tupperware that says safe for microwave, that will be fine to use."

Myth three: Microwaving increases cancer risk.

This is a myth that's been circulating for years, and it's based partly in fact. Microwaves use radiation to heat up food, but it's a lower form of radiation. 

"Today's microwaves leak so little it's very hard to measure anymore," said Barbara Guthrie, VP of Corporate Sustainability. 

According to the American Cancer Society, "When microwave ovens are used according to instruction, there is no evidence that they pose a health risk to people."

And radiation is something the UL lab tests for. 

"We are going to test it both for electrical, mechanical and fire testing, but we are also going to look at the radiation, make sure it's contained and has no damage to the people and the families," Guthrie said.

UL recently introduced changes to a standard that will require manufacturers to design microwaves so that a child alone cannot simply open the door and get to the hot food.

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