Food Engineering

New technology improves microwave-cooked, processed food

October 12, 2010
A partnership with food processors and microwave manufacturers lets company create software that gets microwave cooking right.


Rather than enter time and power levels, which vary from microwave to microwave, the user enters a simple three-to-five-digit code and pushes a special TrueCookPlus button to initiate a lab-calibrated cooking program for the intended food product. Source: Microwave Science.
How many times have you been in a hurry and decided to microwave your favorite shelf-stable, refrigerated or frozen food rather than throw it in the conventional oven, only to achieve less-than-desirable results from the microwave? A three-way partnership among microwave oven companies, food processors and Microwave Science JV LLC provides fine-tuned cooking recipes for microwave ovens to produce perfectly done food out of the microwave.

TrueCookPlus is an embedded software product that is installed along with the microwave oven’s operating system at the factory. It’s a software interpreter-similar to the PostScript programming language interpreter for laser printers. Create instructions, enter them into the system, and in the case of a microwave oven, the embedded interpreter decodes the instructions, takes into consideration the food type (its condition, starting state, weight and packaging characteristics), atmospheric pressure, humidity, power-line voltage, magnetron state, etc.-and adjusts the cooking process to match the particular food product. The instruction set for the microwave is a three-, four- or five-digit number the consumer enters into the microwave-instead of the usual time and power settings. These instructions are interpreted by the software, compared to a laboratory reference oven in which the food was originally tested and cooked and then translated to the specific instructions needed by the consumer microwave to cook the food.

Currently, according to Microwave Science Chief Technology Officer Steven Drucker, microwave partners include LG and Kenmore, and food processor partners include Pinnacle Foods, General Mills, Pop Secret and Diamond Foods.

Based on a laboratory-standard reference oven, the codes and software work together to create perfect, standardized and exact results every time, cooking each product for maximum flavor and to meet guidelines set by the FDA and USDA for safe food preparation, eliminating the risks associated with food-borne bacteria. When Microwave Science determines the perfect cooking process for a given food product, the code is given to processors to print on their packaging.

The technology allows the company to develop the internal programming code for the microwaves plus the cooking code the consumer enters into the TrueCookPlus-enhanced microwave. While this is a very simple explanation, the equipment, programming and technology involved are anything but simple. But simple it is for the end user. For more information, visit the TrueCookPlus website.