Thursday, December 26, 2013

Healthy Holidays: Plastic Food?

Food is often a big part of the holiday season. Our last blog post was about food safety to prevent food borne illness. This post is about the best ways that we can store leftover food.

Many plastic containers for food storage (and serving) have the potential to leech chemicals into our food. The good news is that there are ways to avoid this.  Simply choose materials other than plastic to store food.

Use glass, ceramic or stainless steel for food storage instead of plastic. Inexpensive ideas include mason jars, re-used glass mayonnaise or peanut butter jars, and covered baking dishes.  Stainless steel food storage containers are small, lightweight and once the initial investment is made, will last forever. If you have a lot of plastic containers and few or no containers made of safer alternatives, phase out the plastic over time and replace them with glass, ceramic or stainless steel.

If you plan to use plastic containers, here are a few tips for reducing your risk of chemical exposure.

  • Avoid putting hot food in plastic containers and never heat food in plastic containers. Wait until food cools before you transfer it into a plastic container and use glass or ceramic kitchenware for re-heating.
  • Wash plastic kitchen items by hand, not in the dishwasher. As with hot food in plastic, plastic in a hot dishwasher allows for chemicals to leech.
  • Discard old scratched up plastic kitchenware. The more scratched up it is, the more likely it is to leech.
  • Instead of using plastic wrap to cover the food you put in the microwave, place a larger ceramic plate over the food.
Remember that you don’t have to make changes all at once – small changes can add up to big differences over time.

Happy and healthy holidays to all!

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