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I have a bag of Beyond Meat crumbles. Before reading the bag, I microwaved the crumbles in a bowl until they were thoroughly heated.

...Then I noticed that the bag says "DO NOT MICROWAVE". Is there a health concern with microwaving the product, or are the directions intended to ensure that the product is as enjoyable as it can be?

  • 2
    Did you microwave the crumbles by themselves, or the bag as well? Did anything unusual happen? – Phil Jun 16 at 3:26
  • @Phil Crumbles in a bowl with a bit of spaghetti sauce. We ended up reheating them in a skillet according to the instructions. – Tashus Jun 16 at 5:47
  • It's also quite likely that the group of likely people to want Beyond Meat could include many people not liking microwaves or even thinking they are harmful. By positioning the product as one "not made for microwave" you reinforce this customer base. A win for the marketing Department. And pragmatically, the company knows that people who microwaves stuff, will anyway. </cynicism> – Jeffrey Jun 17 at 14:00
  • @jeffrey I would call that a realistic amount of cynicism. I have also tried to microwave similar products that disintegrated into mush, so I buy the answers below about texture changes. – Tashus Jun 17 at 15:20
54

There are no health concerns with microwaving food. Microwaves excite water molecules to heat food, they don't change food or make it dangerous. When a product says do not microwave it means one of 3 things:

  1. The packaging is not meant to be microwaved: heating some types of packaging can cause bad tastes or smells in food, or cause the packaging to release unhealthy chemicals. Putting the food in a microwave safe dish solves this problem
  2. Microwave heating causes undesirable texture changes in the food. Microwaving can sometimes cause a rubbery texture, or make it soggy
  3. As @fraxinus rightly points out some foods can explode in the microwave, especially food with a shell or airtight covering of some sort like eggs and potatoes. Heat causes pressure to build until the shell or covering fails, causing a 'rapid unscheduled disassembly' as they say in the aerospace industry when something blows up

Number 2 is the most likely reason the package said do not microwave.

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    ... and 3. Some foods explode when microwaved. Eggs are notorious example, but the problem is not limited to them. Sometimes the explosion is desired (e.g. popcorn), but in general case is not. – fraxinus Jun 16 at 11:11
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    Thank you. My concern was internal temperature etc. I understand that microwaves aren't "scary radiation", but that is always a relevant point to remind people of. – Tashus Jun 16 at 15:08
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    From the context, I'd say that Number 1 is also a concern, since it said this on the bag. Some food packaging is designed to be microwaved in the bag, so this warning may be placed on items where it isn't. The OP said they heated it in a bowl, though, so it should be okay. – Darrel Hoffman Jun 16 at 16:06
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    I think #1 is by far the most likely: the packaging is not microwave safe. – Joe M Jun 16 at 17:24
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    #4: The food may produce plasma, sparks, or ignite, possibly damaging the microwave – Robert K. Bell Jun 18 at 1:42
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On the Beyond Meat website there's no mention either way of microwaving (other than the section that reproduces the packaging you've already seen), however searching their tweets reveals that they concede it's possible, though undesirable, to microwave the stuff:

https://twitter.com/BeyondMeat/status/615620476862230528

while you can microwave the #BeastBurger, we always recommend grilling for the best taste, texture and experience!

https://twitter.com/BeyondMeat/status/424243984341684224

most of our fans eat them [Beyond Chicken Strips] out of the box, we recommend pan frying them, but they are totally microwave safe!

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6

Health related concerns are off-topic here, but pretty much anything that can be cooked on a stove can be heated in the microwave, whether the food is then palatable is another issue. There are a few things that are worth considering:

  • Microwaving food cooks differently to on a stove in that the water in the food is heated by the microwaves, this can lead to unpleasant textures in some foods
  • Similarly, microwaving some items has a burning risk if they are a dry food like bread - the inside browns before the outside (reverse toast anyone?) and could potentially catch fire without warning
  • Cooking on a stove usually means adding some other ingredients such as oil or water to help heat it, which alters the taste and can enhance flavour; you might not get this with food heated directly in the microwave.
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    The help center says food safety is on topic. – user2357112 supports Monica Jun 16 at 9:43
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    @user2357112supportsMonica "Is this food considered safe according to food safety regulations" is on topic. "Is this healthy/good for me" is not, since healthy is not well defined and depends on individual factors. – Johanna Jun 16 at 9:48
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    This seems much more like an "is this safe" question than a nutritional advice question to me. Maybe "health concern" specifically refers to the second category to you, but that's not universal. – user2357112 supports Monica Jun 16 at 9:59
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    @user2357112supportsMonica our site doesn't work with a universal/commonly held understanding of the term "food safety" mostly because the most common one leads to unanswerable questions. The food safety questions allowed in the help center are tightly restricted to a quasi-legal definition: we just tell you what are the food safety rules (as published by governmental agencies such as the FDA in the US) that apply to a given case. This is usually about how long food can be stored in a given environment. Technically, this also covers toxins that contaminate the food, so I think your... – rumtscho Jun 16 at 11:06
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    By "health concerns" I was wondering about things like internal temperature, etc. So "is this safe". – Tashus Jun 16 at 14:38

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