A strange food trend which seems to be doing the rounds is cooking in the dishwasher. Reporters, food bloggers, authors and television and radio hosts have been recommending cooking food in the dishwasher, however dishwasher manufacturers don’t seem to share in this sentiment.
General Electric and Whirlpool don’t condone cooking food in the dishwasher because there isn’t enough data to suggest that this practice is a safe food preparation practice. Regardless of manufacturers concerns, the trend seems to be growing in popularity and an author has written a book based entirely on the subject.
Casali, an Italian food author has written a book “Cooking in the Dishwasher” after hours spent studying the subject. The author had an Italian chemical laboratory analyse samples of food cooked in various containers in a dishwasher and she said that the results showed that food cooked in vacuum-sealed plastic bags or hermetically sealed jars doesn’t risk contamination from the water or detergent used in the dishwasher.
However there are some that are concerned about the new trend. One concerned researcher, Ben Chapman from North Carolina State University says the issue isn’t so much about food becoming contaminated as much as there is a risk that the dishwasher will not heat the food up to the necessary temperature to kill pathogens such as Salmonella in the food.
Chapman said that while certain foods such as fish need to reach the temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, some dishwashers only reached between 131-167 degrees Fahrenheit (according to Electrolux representatives).
He goes on to explain in an article on FoodSafetyNews.com
Chapman says the scientific literature provides specific cooking temperatures to make specific foods like poultry, beef, pork and fish safe to eat, much in the 145 to 160 degree range. But, especially for eggs, the dishwasher would need to reach some of its highest temperatures to ensure that any pathogens in the food were destroyed. For fruits, vegetables and food that can be eaten raw, he said that cooking temperature might be less of a problem.
Chapman’s concern with C. botulinum involves food being left in a sealed space for an extended period of time. He said that the best environment for the bacterium’s cells to vegetate in is one of less than 240 degrees F with little or no oxygen.
“We’ve seen outbreaks of botulism from the environment people have created in their home, where they can their food, then leave it in their pantry for weeks,” Chapman said.
Using the dishwasher for preserving is also risky according to Chapman because although the boiling water in the dishwasher will kill vegetative cells, it doesn’t kill inactive spores. Ordinarily cookers for preserving reach 240 degrees because they inactivate the spores. Any less heat can actually germinate spores and result in vegetative cells, the by-product of this cell multiplication is toxins. Toxins can prove dangerous when consumed.
Although there are number of food preparation methods and popular dishes which call for uncooked or undercooked food, the risks involved with eating food which has not been cooked to a high enough temperature cannot be ignored. Even representatives from General Electric and Whirlpool advise against it,
“Dishwashers are not intended to cook food. They are designed to clean dishes,” said Kim Freeman, a spokeswoman for General Electric.
Samantha Smitala, a spokeswoman for Whirlpool, said the company advises its customers to use their products according to their use and care guides.
One Whirlpool dishwasher care guide states, “Use the dishwasher only for its intended function.”