Tossing food into a microwave and zapping it on high is hardly gourmet cooking, but if the food is a hotdog, then the microwave may be the way to go. A new food safety study by a researcher at Colorado State University in Fort Collins found that heating hotdogs for 75 seconds in a microwave on the high power setting significantly reduces contamination from Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that kills about 500 people in the United States each year and causes another 2,500 people to become seriously ill.
The Listeria pathogens build up in hotdogs and other cold cuts during storage, but heating the meat to a high temperature kills most of them. Destroying pathogens with microwaves has not been recommended by experts because microwaves do not heat in a uniform way, leaving cold spots where pathogens can survive. With hotdogs, however, sufficient heating at high power appears to work.
“The highest reductions of Listeria monocytogenes contamination were obtained when frankfurters were reheated at high power for 75 seconds,” food safety scientist Patricia Kendall said in her study.
The study appears in the Journal of Food Science.
Jim Dawson reports for Inside Science News Service.