Do microwaves "basically" destroy "every food value in the food" they cook, "turning it into a toxin"? No, that's not true: A representative of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told Lead Stories that these claims are false. Multiple news outlets have similarly debunked these claims since at least 2006.
The claims appeared in an Instagram video post on June 21, 2022. It opened:
Credit 👉 @whoisprakasaka
The text in the video read:
DOCTOR SAYS MICROWAVES ARE HIGHLY TOXIC
This is what the post looked like on Instagram at the time of writing:
(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Fri June 24 16:35:05 2022 UTC)
The 58-second video shows two men in an interview. The top left-hand corner of the video displays the account of unverified social media user @whoisprakasaka, self-described as an "American Born Mystic." The reposted video, posted initially on the "whoisprakasaka" page on April 29, 2022, cites no credible sources or experts about the claims.
Starting at the 0:27 mark in the video, the claim is:
The microwave is basically destroying every food value that's in the food and turning it into a toxin. So, everything out of the microwave is highly toxic and the food value is completely zero.
An FDA representative told Lead Stories via a June 23, 2022, email that microwave energy is changed to heat as it is absorbed by food and does not produce "radioactive" or "contaminated" food. They added:
Microwave cooking does not reduce the nutritional value of foods any more than conventional cooking. In fact, foods cooked in a microwave oven may keep more of their vitamins and minerals, because microwave ovens can cook more quickly and without adding water.
They also shared this Microwave Oven Radiation | FDA webpage, which states:
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has regulated the manufacture of microwave ovens since 1971. Microwave oven manufacturers are required to certify their products and meet safety performance standards created and enforced by the FDA to protect the public health. On the basis of current knowledge about microwave radiation, the Agency believes that ovens that meet the FDA standard and are used according to the manufacturer's instructions are safe for use.
People have expressed two concerns to me. The first is that our exposure to the microwaves might somehow injure our bodies. To make a long story short, there is no evidence of this.
The second is the concern you mention: that microwave cooking might damage the nutrients in our food. It is true that cooking food by any method does tend to cause some of the nutrients to break down. Cooking damages the chemical structure of the nutrient, to some degree. However, there are plenty of nutrients left. And cooking kills many microbes that might have contaminated the food--and might have caused health problems.
However, microwave cooking is actually one of the least likely forms of cooking to damage nutrients. That's because the longer food cooks, the more nutrients tend to break down, and microwave cooking takes less time. So cooking a roast in an oven is more likely to cause some loss of nutrients than cooking the roast in a microwave.
An even older 2006 New York Times article titled, "The Claim: Microwave Ovens Kill Nutrients in Food" equally concluded that microwave ovens do not destroy nutrients:
Every cooking method can destroy vitamins and other nutrients in food. The factors that determine the extent are how long the food is cooked, how much liquid is used and the cooking temperature.
Since microwave ovens often use less heat than conventional methods and involve shorter cooking times, they generally have the least destructive effects.
Lead Stories also debunked the claim that microwave radiation is 100 times higher than safe levels.