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This paper reviews some of the advantages and disadvantages associated with the increased use of microwave energy which have been revealed in recent investigations. In the U.K., there have been many changes in household structure and in eating patterns. Lifestyles have changed as a result of the complex interaction between social, nutritional and technical developments. There are now many new products and a different mode of cooking and eating is used in which convenience is an important feature. Comparisons between households with and without microwave cookers showed a fundamental difference between time and energy used in food preparation and also between the part played by different family members in meal production. The changing roles within households and the nature of family-eating patterns were evident. Experiments were carried out to quantify some of the observed differences between food cooked by conventional methods and by using microwave energy.

The microwave cooker was found to be an important domestic cooking appliance with potential for improving energy efficiency during cooking and providing convenience and increased leisure time but it must be realised that there are problems relating to product design and safety.