Health Concerns Microwaving with Plastic

This time of year, with all the holidays, parties and get-togethers, there is an overabundance of leftovers stuffed in refrigerators across America. Most of us, without giving it thought, will grab the plastic container of hot n spicy weenies and place them into the “magic warmer” known as the microwave. But the combination of these two technological wonders, plastic and the microwave, may not be beneficial to your health.

Studies have found that all plastics commonly used for food packaging or storage can leach chemicals into the food, especially when heated. The fats and oils in food along with the heat allow the chemicals to penetrate into the food.

Most toxins/chemicals are fat soluble and are therefore stored in our adipose tissues. This means the more obese you are, the more storage you have for toxic substances.

The International Plastics Task Force (IPTF) recommends avoiding these plastics
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC or vinyl) - Used to make Reynolds Wrap and Polyvinyl Films. This is what most grocery stores use to package meats and other items.
  • Polystyrene (PS) in it’s inflated form is called Styrofoam, but is also used in it’s non-inflated form in some brands of disposable plastic cups and bowls and in most opaque plastic cutlery.
  • Polycarbonate (and other resins) which contains biphenyl-A. Most plastic baby bottles are made of polycarbonate as are clear plastic sippy cups, storage containers and some brands of clear plastic cutlery.

The IPTF also advises that the safest way to store foods is in glass or ceramic containers and to avoid heating/microwaving foods in plastic. They aren’t alone, even Dr. Rolf Halden, (PhD, PE, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences and the Center for Water and Health at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) when asked “What about cooking with plastics?”, Replied:
“In general, whenever you heat something you increase the likelihood of pulling chemicals out. Chemicals can be released from plastic packaging materials like the kinds used in some microwave meals. Some drinking straws say on the label “not for hot beverages.” Most people think the warning is because someone might be burned. If you put that straw into a boiling cup of hot coffee, you basically have a hot water extraction going on, where the chemicals in the straw are being extracted into your nice cup of coffee. We use the same process in the lab to extract chemicals from materials we want to analyze.

If you are cooking with plastics or using plastic utensils, the best thing to do is to follow the directions and only use plastics that are specifically meant for cooking. Inert containers are best, for example heat-resistant glass, ceramics and good old stainless steel.”

So how do you avoid plastic containers and cling wrap from touching your food? With Kinetic Go Green Glass-Lock Storage Food Containers.

I came across this product on Bonanzle (Time-4-More) and was elated to find an airtight storage solution alternative to plastic containers. The Glass-Lock storage containers are:

  • Microwave safe
  • Tempered glass (Tempered glass is manufactured through a process of extreme heating and rapid cooling, making it harder than normal glass.)
  • Top rack dishwasher safe
  • Silicone air and liquid tight lid (this is the only part of the container that is not microwave safe.)
  • Freezer safe
  • Can safely go from freezer to microwave
This product can be purchased on-line from Arrowearth as well as other eco-friendly green products.

1 comment:

  1. We always recommend to our readers to try and use Pyrex or glass containers - this way they don't flavour the food at all. I presume plastic must be safe in some cases - for example pre-made meals often require heating in their plastic containers - I prefer not to take the risk personally - Joey from Microwave Reviews