Friday, September 10, 2010
Plastic Containers...Microwave Safe?
Countless people discuss whether reheating food in plastic containers in the microwave is a potential health risk? I hear both sides of the debate on a daily basis. This week I was even sent a "mass email" that detailed health risks published by Johns Hopkins School of Medicine that stated that using the microwave to reheat food in plastic containers leaves you at risk for developing cancer. That was the last straw. I decided to do some research to find more conclusive evidence. I am tired of not being educated on this controversial issue.
I started by looking at www.plasticsinfo.org (http://www.plasticsinfo.org/s_plasticsinfo/sec_level2_faq.asp?CID=703&DID=2837). I thought, why not start with the plastic side of the story...they probably are the ones that will say it is OK. Their stance appears to be:
"Of course, using a plastic item in the microwave that was not labeled for microwave suitability, isn't necessarily "unsafe." All plastics intended for food use – whether designed for the microwave or not – must meet stringent FDA safety standards before they can be marketed to consumers. But unless a product is labeled for microwave suitability, you won’t have the assurance of knowing that an item was tested and evaluated for this purpose. The concern is that, if used inappropriately, an item may warp or melt when exposed to extremely hot foods, and accidental burns could occur.
To play it safe, look for plastics that are labeled for microwave use and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If your container isn’t labeled for microwave use, it’s best to choose something that is."
Makes sense. You would not put a container in the OVEN if it was not marked oven safe (and what temperature it can withstand if it is oven safe).
The www.plasticsinfo.org site has a plethora of information, if you follow the links, about safety in reusing water bottles and plastic bags.
I sought conflicting information and found that GoodHousekeeping did their own research and listed their findings. Some plastics did have more phthalates or PBA than others but most containers did not transmit them to the foods through the microwaving process. Follow the link to find the list of products they tested.
From what I hear and what I have researched I have concluded that there is suspicion that plastics, as well as other manufactured goods, may be detrimental to people's health. Until conclusive information reaches the public, we need to be aware that everything needs to be in moderation. We cannot protect ourselves and our loved ones from each and every risk out there, but we can do our best to limit our exposure. While the debate rages on, we can limit our use of plastics for reheating foods in the microwave. Perhaps we can limit the use of the microwave as well. Couldn't that also be a potential danger?