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Could Your Plastic Wrap and Food Storage Containers Be Making You Sick?

This is an article from an issue of Organic Style, my favorite magazine that unfortunately went out of publication.

“Yes, Your Food Storage Can Be Safer” by Kieran Doherty

Solve the container conundrum once and for all with these sensible solutions that keep edibles fresh – and minimize your exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.

If you are heating up last night’s pasta primavera in a plastic container, there’s something you should know: Plastic contains chemical additives, some of which can leach out and may increase risk of birth defects, developmental delays, and certain hormone-related illnesses, such as breast and prostrate cancers.

According to several university studies, heat releases these harmful additives into the food you’re innocently warming up. So don’t use plastic – any plastic in the microwave.

Another hot spot is the dishwasher. Washing plastic by hand, in warm water, reduces the likelihood of chemical leaching. Scratches can also increase chemical migration, so don’t use abrasive sponges or harsh cleaners on plastic. (Send all scratched plastic to recycling immediately.) The good news is there are plenty of other options (some may be in your cupboards already), from stainless steel to old-fashioned waxed butcher paper to safer plastics.

Here’s everything you need to know:

For Microwaving: DO use micro-wave safe glass or ceramic cookware. DO NOT use any plastic, including plastic wrap, Tupperware and Styrofoam. WE LIKE CorningWare, made from stoneware, can go from freezer to oven or microwave to your table; Anchor Hocking glass storage container, which has a glass lid. PARENTS UNDER CONSTRUCTION LIKES Pyrex Storage 10-Piece Set, Clear with Blue Lids

For Refrigerator Storage: DO use glass, ceramic, stainless steel or PVC-free plastic wrap. DO NOT use plastic containers for anything that will leave behind a residue that will require scouring, which can create scratches. Don’t store or cover hot food in or with plastic – let it cool first. WE LIKE Easy-to-clean Pyrex glass containers; Betty Crocker stainless steel bowls; Glad Cling Wrap made from safer number 4 plastic PARENTS UNDER CONSTRUCTION LIKES Pyrex Storage 10-Piece Set, Clear with Blue Lids

For Packing Lunches: DO use foil or waxed or butcher paper to wrap sandwiches and snacks. If you prefer the convenience of bags, look for ones made from number 4 plastic. DO NOT use any plastic for high fat foods such as meat or cheese; plastics contain chemicals that are attracted to fat. WE LIKE Reynold’s Cut-Rite Waxed-paper sandwich bags which are a good alternative to plastic; Glad sandwich bags made from number 4 plastic are suitable for fruits and vegetables. PARENTS UNDER CONSTRUCTION LIKES Natural Value Waxed Paper Bags, 60-Count (Pack of 12)

For Water: DO use glass or stainless steel or pitchers made from number 2 or 5 plastic. DO NOT use pitchers made from number 7 plastic. WE LIKE Lehman’s European glass juice jars, designed for canning, have lids and keep your water tasting like, well, water. A wide mouth allows easy cleaning; The Bormioli Samoa glass pitcher has a chamber for ice built right in. PARENTS UNDER CONSTRUCTION LIKES Adagio Teas Glass Pitcher

For Freezing: DO use foil, freezer paper, or number 4 plastic freezer bags. DO NOTuse any glass or plastic not labeled FREEZER SAFE – extreme cold can cause both to crack. WE LIKE Ziploc Freezer Guard Bags which are made from number 4 plastic and have a seal that keeps out moisture; for hot food, use Reynolds Wrap Everyday Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil, designed for extreme heat and cold.

For Pantry Storage: DO use glass, aluminum, stainless steel, or number 5 plastic. DO NOT store food in any plastic container made from number 3, 6 or 7 plastic. WE LIKE Tellfresh containers made from dishwasher and freezer safe number 5 plastic. they also have clip-on tags (sold separately) to take the guesswork out of what you stored – and when; Williams Sonoma’s brushed stainless steel canisters have snug-fitting glass lids for easy viewing. PARENTS UNDER CONSTRUCTION LIKES Oggi 8-pc. Canister Set with Stainless Steel Lids

Edited as printed in Organic Style Magazine June 2005

If you like this article and/or are familiar with the Organic Style magazine and would like to get it back in publication, contact and let them know how you feel!

Photo courtesy of Squidoo.

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