There are currently a number of emails circulating which suggest that when hot or cold plastics come into contact with your food, they can cause cancer. A simple example of this is when you heat food in the microwave in a plastic container. But how accurate are the facts in these emails?
There are many chemicals involved in the process of making plastic. All plastics, when they reach a certain temperature, will begin to release these chemicals. Plastic containers which claim to be microwave safe are, in theory, built so that they will not release chemicals at the temperatures reached in a microwave. Commonly microwaved plastics which are not microwave safe include glad wrap and the plastic containers of some microwave dinners.
Whether any plastic is safe when heated is still being debated. To be on the safe side, it is suggested that you take the food you wish to heat out of the plastic container, and put it into a container made out of ceramic, glass or Pyrex, as these materials are inert, and will not release chemicals into your food.
Cooling plastics, such as freezing a water bottle, should actually help to stabilise the plastic, so the ‘Dangerous Frozen Water Bottle’ email is a myth.
Some chemicals, such as bisphenol A (BPA), have recently made headlines. BPA is in many plastic food containers, such as baby bottles, tupper wear and drink bottles. Studies have shown that BPA can transfer into your food from the plastic container, but it is not yet understood if this has any negative side effects. Again, to be on the safe side it is suggested that you use BPA-free plastic containers.
Do you know any more about the dangers of plastic? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.