Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Is It Safe To Microwave In Plastic? The Yes And No

[Hu's On First]
Is it an old wives tale / internet myth that it is unsafe to microwave food in plastic? Well not anymore,

I finally  saw an article in no less reliable source than Redbook (which is sort of a mix between Women's Day and Cosmopolitan) that doctors now recommend against it. However, Good Housekeeping documents an actual  study which shows that whatever these doctors suspect must be true, they can't actually measure any bad stuff getting onto the food, assuming that plastic has anything bad in it, which many plastic items don't. Unfortunately this husband is probably going to have to give in and admit that it isn't just made up. As long as anybody in your household or office objects to it, you'll probably have to use glass or ceramic. Bottom line is that it probably won't harm or kill anybody, but the kitchen brawl over who is right COULD cause physical injury or harm your marriage / partnership.

Not Safe:

quoting June 2012 Redbook (on newsstands now!) :

Microwaving in plastic:

Heat releases some of the chemical building blocks in plastic, sending them into whatever food or drink you're warming up. One such chemical, bisphenol A (BPA), "can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body, potentially leading to issues like premature puberty and breast or testicular cancer," says Pham. Even BPA-free plastics could release substances that can have negative effects, so it's best to avoid microwaving any plastic container, says Jennifer Lowry, M.D., a medical toxicologist at Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, MO. All of our experts agree: Heat food or drink in glass or ceramic. From the printed version: Jennifer Lowry M.D. at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City says "it's best to avoid microwaving any plastic container"


Part A: only a few products even had BPA, none leaked into food
The good news: Twenty-seven of the products tested contained no phthalates or BPA. Three, however, did contain low levels of BPANext, the lab tested these four items with "food simulants" — chemicals designed to stand in for real food in a lab. (Our federal health agencies, like the FDA, allow the use of food simulants in testing.) Results: No detectable BPA or phthalates migrated from the products into the simulants.

Part B: No BPA or phthalates detectable in food even in parts with some BPA in it.
For a real-life test, we microwaved Old World Style Ragú Traditional Smooth Pasta Sauce and Heinz Home Style Gravy Savory Beef in the two Rubbermaid containers and in a glass bowl covered with Press'n Seal. As you're unlikely to heat up tomato sauce or gravy in a plastic bag, we eliminated the Glad Storage Zipper Bags from this part of the testing. The lab first evaluated the foods straight from the jars to ensure that there were no phthalates or BPA present in the sauces before they were transferred to the test containers. In addition to testing foods heated in brand-new containers, we used ones that we had put through 30 rounds of microwaving and cleaning in the dishwasher, to see if wear and tear made a difference. Clearly good news: None of the samples of sauce or gravy had detectable levels of either BPA or phthalates.
Products tested that contained no phthalates or BPA:

Read more: Dangers of Heating Food in Plastic - Microwave Health Risks - Bisphenol A - Good Housekeeping 

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