4 Hazards Of Storing Food In Plastic Containers
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Everyone has a stacked set of plastic containers at their homes. Be it for carrying lunch to school or work, which your mother might ask you to take some extra care of, or for simply putting the leftovers in the fridge. Tossing food into a plastic container, eating directly from plastic takeaway boxes, and, worst of all, microwaving food in plastic containers, you must be familiar with at least one of these situations.

Even though you may not realise it in day-to-day life, these seemingly harmless practices are actually hazardous both to your health and to the environment. Read on to know how it is hazardous, and if not plastic, which containers are safe for you to store your food for later use.

Chemical Leaching

One of the major concerns while storing food in plastic containers is the potential of chemical leaching into the food. As per a study published in the Journal of Pharmacy & Bioallied Sciences in 2021, plastics are made from various chemicals like BPA (BPA (bisphenol-A), phthalates, and other additives. It has been found that when these chemicals come in contact with hot or slightly acidic or particularly oily food, there is a huge possibility of them leaching into the food. Such chemical leach can cause many health issues like food poisoning, hormone fluctuations, and even certain types of cancer.

Long-Term Storage

Plastics, especially of low quality, usually degrade or break down their molecules, especially when they are used repeatedly, constantly washed, or kept under direct sunlight. As and when a plastic container starts to degrade, the food is subject to getting in direct contact with more chemicals. Furthermore, if your plastic container has worn off over time and has some scratches or cracks, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, thus making it highly unsafe for storing food.

Microplastic Contamination

Chemical leaching isn’t the only big issue when it comes to storing food in plastic containers. In a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in 2020, food contamination due to microplastics is also another threat while using plastic containers. As the name suggests, microplastics are small plastic particles which are transferable to the food. If the microplastics are ingested, they come with many underlying health risks like inflammation and disturbances in digestion with a direct impact on the gut.

Temperature Sensitivity

Since plastic containers are sensitive to heat, it is not advisable to expose them to temperature fluctuations. For example, you should avoid warming food in plastic containers in a microwave, wash them in a dishwasher, and transfer hot foods into them. For the same reason, it is also recommended to not use plastic containers to freeze your foods, which can again risk chemical leaching if the plastic molecules are tampered with.

Alternate Ways Of Storing Food

Glass Containers: Glass containers are known to be the safest and most convenient way of storing food. Since they are non-toxic, you can use them for refrigerating the food, microwaving it, washing it in a dishwasher, and freezing as well. For an optimal storage of food, get the glass containers with airtight lids to ensure that there are no compromises made with the quality of the food.

Stainless Steel Containers: Stainless steel is another excellent option for food storage. It is non-reactive, resistant to corrosion, and does not have any odour which can be transferred to the food. They are lightweight, durable, and environment-friendly. The only drawback is that you cannot directly put a stainless steel container in the microwave, else it is a great option for storing your leftovers.

Silicone Bags: If you’re familiar with plastic zipper bags, silicon bags are their healthier and eco-friendly versions. They do not have any chemicals and are safe to use in a microwave, oven, freezer, and dishwasher. So instead of plastic zippers or bags, opt for the reusable silicon bags and benefit yourself and the environment.