Plastics play a crucial role in our kitchens. From storing to serving, there are numerous ways our food comes in contact with plastic everyday. The question is: are all these interactions safe? When it comes to heating our food in microwaves, the answer is potentially, no.
“When certain types of plastic are heated in the microwave, the substances and chemicals used in the manufacturing of the plastic can leak into your food,” explains Robert J. George, DO, an osteopathic Family Physician from Bradenton, Florida. “This plastic residual can raise health concerns when ingested, especially in infants and pregnant women."
However, that doesn’t mean that it’s unsafe to microwave all plastics.
“It depends on the type of plastic and on the type of food you are heating,” says Dr. George. “Different plastics react to the microwave in different ways and fatty foods, in particular, like meats and cheeses, reach very high temperatures and may cause the plastic to warp or melt. This in turn has the potential to cause a chemical to seep out of the plastic and into the food.”
That’s why it’s important to know what to look for when determining if certain plastics are safe for the microwave.
“A good place to start is with the manufacturers labels on your plastic containers,” says Dr. George.
Every plastic container intended for use with food has to undergo stringent testing performed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If it is determined that a plastic product is safe for microwave use, then you will see either a microwave-safe symbol or written instructions indicating the product is microwave-safe. The number system found on plastics pertains to recycling and does not indicate whether or not the plastic is safe for heating.
However, Dr. George warns that not all microwave-safe products are safe to use in the microwave in the same way.
“Though certain types of plastic wrap have received an FDA approved microwave-safe label, if it comes into direct contact with hot food (especially fatty foods) in the microwave, it may melt and release some of its contents into the food,” he says. “Therefore, you should leave at least one inch between plastic wrap and food before heating, or use alternatives like wax paper, parchment paper, or white paper towels.”
According to Dr. George, there are certain types of plastics to always avoid when heating food in a microwave. These include:
• Restaurant takeout containers
• Water bottles
• Plastic tubs and jars made to hold margarine, cream cheese, yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, etc.
• Plastic storage bags or plastic bags from the grocery store
Dr. George also encourages people to follow these microwaving tips:
• Never reheat the plastic tray formulated for frozen dinner and lunch entrees. These are intended for one-time use only.
• Vent the container when microwaving by leaving the lid ajar or lifting the edge.
• Ensure your product states “microwave safe” or contains instructions for use in the microwave.
“The important thing is to always read the labels of your plastic containers carefully before you put them in the microwave,” cautions Dr. George. “If you are unsure, then it is best to heat your food in a microwave-safe container made of a different material, such as glass or ceramic.”
Preventive medicine is just one aspect of care osteopathic physicians (DOs) provide. DOs are fully licensed to prescribe medicine and practice in all specialty areas, including surgery. DOs are trained to consider the health of the whole person and use their hands to help diagnose and treat their patients.
- The Truth on Juice Fasts
- Dr. Eric Milie discusses pneumonia and its symptoms and risk factors
- How to Beat Heat Rash
- Celiac Disease: Living a Gluten-Free Life
- What to Expect When You're Expecting: Managing Severe Morning Sickness
- The Real Harm in High Heels
- Living a Full Life with Fibromyalgia
- Hearing Loss and Headphones – Is Anyone Listening?
- LECOM joins AHRQ Partnership in national health improvement initiative
- Stock up on Fruit for the Winter
- Back-to-School Backpack Safety
- Sorting Out Seasonal Allergies
- Adult Sports - How to Gain with No Pain
- Time for a Flu Shot
- What to Know about Nosebleeds
- Microwaves and Plastics: How to Safely Re-Heat Your Leftovers
- Should Your Child be Vaccinated?
- The Raw Facts About Raw Milk
- Parents Can Prevent Inhalant Use in Children
- Dietary Supplements: The Health Benefits of Pumping Up Your Diet
- Don't Lose Sleep Over Night Sweats
- Winter Brings Chance of Hypothermia
- Be Cautious for the Flu Season
- The Benefits of Eating Breakfast at Dinner
- Managing Migraines
- The Dangers of Distracted Driving
- Living with Diabetes
- Is Your Doctor a D.O. or a M.D.?
- Living Healthy at Any Age
- Shoveling Your Way to Lower Back Pain
- Holiday Gatherings: Perfect Time to Share Family Health History
- Halloween Tricks for Consuming Fewer Treats
- Injuries: To Ice or To Heat?
- The Dangers of Dehydration
- Fitness on the Go
- Exercise for Your Bone Health
- Muscle Cramp - A Common Pain
- A New Year's REsolution to Benefit the Whole Family
- Don’t Hibernate: How to Stay Active and Safe in the Winter Cold
- Battling Boredom in Your Workout
- Bone Up on Osteoporosis
- An Unwanted Rosy Complexion: Rosacea
- Living in Fear: Anxiety Disorders
- At First Flutter: Recognizing an Irregular Heart Rhythm
- Food Allergies: Avoiding a Holiday Hazard
- Matters of the Mind: Keeping Your Mind Fit
- Eye Strain at Work: See the Signs
- Don't Forget About Your Eyes This Winter