Unsafe Plastic Food Storage Containers

Plastic or Glass?

You’ve not lived until you’ve left your grandmother’s or auntie’s house with a stack of whipped topping containers, butter tubs, and burnt orange Tupperware from the ‘80s filled with Thanksgiving dinner leftovers. Unfortunately, you may also be leaving with a host of bisphenol A (BPA).

BPA, a type of polycarbonate, is a major ingredient in many plastics and can liners and was used widely in baby bottles and sippy cups for decades. In 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of BPA in baby bottles, citing potential harm to the brains and reproductive development of infants and children.

With so many new food containers available, some are considered safer than others when it comes to your health. Here are a few things to look for when purchasing plastic storage containers other than size shape or color.

  • Know the code – 
    •  On the bottom of plastic food storage containers, you’ll find a tiny triangle with a number (resin identification code) ranging from 1 to 7. This number indicates what the plastic is made of. In general, the safest choices for food use are numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding plastic containers with codes 3, 6 and 7. Plastic number 3 contains vinyl or polyvinyl chloride (PVC), 6 has polystyrene and 7 can contain various plastics, such as Bisphenol-A (BPA).
    • The use of BPA has been banned in baby bottles, sippy cups and in the packaging of infant formulas. However, its use in other food and beverage containers continues to be monitored and is currently considered safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  • Keep it cool – 
    • Though polycarbonate plastic is strong and long-lasting, it can break down over time from high temperatures and overuse.
      • Never microwave foods in plastic food containers, including margarine tubs and restaurant carryout containers.
      • Plastic containers from packaged microwavable meals shouldn’t be reused after their initial use; they’re safely designed for one-time-use only.
      • Putting plastic containers in the dishwasher should also be avoided.
  • The Bottom Line – 
    • Pick plastic food containers wisely and limit their use to cold food storage. They can also be ideal for transporting food.
    • Choose glass or stainless steel containers for cold or hot foods. Since both can be cleaned and reused, they’re ideal for home food storage, too.
  • Throw out the leftovers
    • Then you wouldn’t need to worry about storage containers!
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Pam Batey

Moved to Tanglewood in August 2016, with husband, Steve and dog, Maggie. Retired Paramedic, now continuing my hobby writing short stories and information in the "You and Your Health" Section of the newsletter. Active Member of Tanglewood Community Church.