One of the best inventions of our time has to be Tupperware, wonderful plastic containers that keep things fresh and odor free while neatly stacking in our fridge. I personally love them and use them for more than leftovers. As much as I use them, after reading some articles about how chemicals in plastics can leach into our food, my love of them became tempered. According to research, at room or cool temperatures chemicals leachage is small, but when plastic containers are heated the amount of chemicals leached into food rises dramatically. Here are a few points I jotted down from the articles.
Basically, ‘know your plastics’. There are around 7 types of plastics and every plastic container from Tupperware to baby bottles have a number on them to identify the kind of plastic used. You may see the letters or the number in a triangle usually on the bottom and they are:
1 Polyethyelene terephthalate (PETE)
2 High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
3 Vinyl, polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
4 Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
5 Polypropylene (PP)
6 Polystyrene (PS) (white trays under packaged fresh foods)
7 Includes polycarbonate, acrylic, polylactic acid, fibreglass
Avoid number 7 for food storage. I threw out my scratched ones and used any new ones for knickknacks like buttons, etc. Also avoid 3 and 6. If you are using plastics for storing foods use only 1, 2, 4 and 5.
Although plastics 1, 2, 4 and 5 are ok for storage, here are some dos and don’ts when it comes to using them:
- Plastic that says its ok for use in microwave or dishwasher simply means that it won’t melt, so it’s best not to use them in a dishwasher or microwave. Wash plastics by hand to avoid getting them scratched. If they do either get rid or use for nonfood items.
- Avoid using PVC cling film/ plastic wrap in microwave or wrapping food in it. Look for non-PVC cling film to wrap food in.
- Use as much as possible, glass or stainless steel for food storage.
- Let food cool down before storing in a plastic container. In addition, letting food cool down before putting the fridge will cut down on energy used by the fridge to cool it down.
Although we can’t avoid using plastics, as they are everywhere, we can know our plastic to be better informed about to use it.