CAT Critical Reasoning Practice question with Solution 78

The efficiency of microwave ovens in destroying the harmful bacteria frequently found in common foods is diminished by the presence of salt in the food being cooked. When heated in a microwave oven, the interior of unsalted food reaches temperatures high enough to kill bacteria that cause food poisoning, but the interior of salted food does not. Scientists theorize that salt effectively blocks the microwaves from heating the interior.

Which one of the following conclusions is most supported by the information above?

[A]. The kinds of bacteria that cause food poisoning are more likely to be found on the exterior of food than in the interior of food.
[B]. The incidence of serious food poisoning would be significantly reduced if microwave ovens were not used by consumers to cook or reheat food.
[C]. The addition of salt to food that has been cooked or reheated in a microwave oven can increase the danger of food poisoning.
[D]. The danger of food poisoning can be lessened if salt is not used to prepare foods that are to be cooked in a microwave oven.
[E]. Salt is the primary cause of food poisoning resulting from food that is heated in microwave ovens.
Answer: D

The interiors of unsalted foods that are microwaved get hot enough to kill the bacteria that causes food poisoning, whereas the interiors of salted foods don’t get so hot and are therefore more vulnerable to harmful bacteria that could lead to food poisoning. This isn’t a difficult situation to imagine encountering in real life. Armed with this knowledge, any reasonable person would feel safer from food poisoning by not adding salt to food before microwaving. This notion is echoed in correct choice (D).

(A) offers a comparison that’s impossible to verify from the stimulus. The stimulus never even mentions exterior bacteria, whereas it does state for a fact that there is harmful bacteria on the interior of food. There’s simply no basis in the passage for comparing how much bacteria is on the exterior of food to how much is on the interior.

(B) needn’t be true, because the author isn’t condemning microwaves themselves, just pointing out a risk in the use of microwaves with salted foods. For all we know, conventional ovens may do an even worse job of killing bacteria.

(C) Scope shift: The stimulus deals with the effects of adding salt to food before microwaving, while this choice is about adding salt after microwaving. Be careful!

(E) is unwarranted; we can’t conclude salt is the primary cause of these problems because other elements may do an even better job of protecting bacteria from microwaves.

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