The amount of standing time required depends on the type of food you’re microwaving. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), foods like bread, fruits, and small vegetables are less dense and thus require less standing time, while foods like meat are denser and require longer periods of standing time. Before you consume any food you’ve microwaved, make sure you’re adhering to the recommended standing time on the package. When in doubt, allow food to stand for at least three minutes, the FSIS recommends.
Not allowing adequate standing time could lead to serious illness if you’re not careful. According to a report published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), a 2010 outbreak of Salmonella enterica serotype Chester was associated with consumption of frozen microwaved meals. “Not all of the persons with Salmonella Chester infection who were interviewed reported allowing their meal to stand for the time recommended in the cooking instructions before eating; microwave standing time is part of the cooking process,” the CDC reported at the time.