Friday, July 15, 2011

Ask Ida

Is it safe to microwave food in plastic?

Dear Ida B. Green,

I bought some great frozen dinners recently that are microwavable "in their plastic tray." This seems wrong. Am I being paranoid?

Signed, Plastic Phobia

Dear Phobia,

You're not paranoid. You're right. When you can choose, it's best to cook, eat and store your foods in glass, ceramic or stainless steel. But plastic can be a hard convenience to change.

Here's why it's worth it: BPA and phthalates (two additives in our myriad of plastics) were recently banned from use in sports bottles, baby bottles and soft plastic toys. You'd suffer total phobia to know how many food, drink and medical items still contain them. Even though studies have connected them to diabetes, cancers and developmental delays, it took decades to get them removed from just three items.

Finding out what dangers lurk in your plastic con-tainers and utensils is often impossible. Instead of freaking out, consider these changes in your kitchen:

- Cook, serve and eat your foods on ceramic, glass or metal alternatives.

- BPA is fat-soluble, so keep fatty foods and plastics apart.

- Cover hot and warm foods with another plate instead of plastic cling wrap.

- Wash your plastics by hand to avoid super-hot dish-washers.

- Cracked or scratched plastics allow leaching of chemicals into your food. Demote them to dividers in your tool drawer and buy glass or PVC-free plastic con-tainers.

Keep it Green,


—Elizabeth Jeffrey

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