Is it Safe to Microwave Plastic?

Is it Safe to Microwave Plastic thesoftlanding.com

Tests done by the Journal Sentinel, with the help of Dr. Fred Vom Saal, lead us to conclude that it’s not a good idea to use plastic in the microwave.

Ten product containers were tested for BPA leaching, including a Munchkin feeding bowl and a Stouffer’s frozen dinner. The products were either labeled as microwave-safe or were meant to be warmed in a conventional oven. Not surprisingly, BPA was found leaching from every single product, even containers labeled with recycling codes 1, 2, and 5.

As we discussed before, recycling categories should be used as a guideline to help you avoid BPA, polystyrene and PVC.  Products labeled with codes 1, 2, 4 or 5 are not guaranteed to be free of hormone-mimicking chemicals.

And What About Oven Safe Cooking Bags and Microwave Safe Dishes?

When it comes down to it, we just don’t recommend cooking in plastic.  Period.

Even BPA-free products like oven cooking bags and microwave-safe dishes that are supposed to be specifically designed for that purpose aren’t usually stable enough and end up leaching chemicals when heated too much.

We’ll stick to warming our food in glass.  Dr. Vom Saal said it best, “There is no such thing as safe microwaveable plastic.”

 

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Alicia Voorhies is a Registered Nurse who decided to take a break to relax and enjoy her young kids after 13 years of working with disabled adults. She began to explore the world of alternative health ideas and was immediately attracted to the mysteries of endocrine disruptors and their effect on children. In 2007 she founded The Soft Landing along with her mom and sisters to help parents provide a safe, natural home for their children without drowning in an overwhelming sea of information.

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  • Beth Terry

    Mmmm… Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese with a side of BPA. Delish.

    I kid, but can’t count the number of Stouffer’s mac & cheese frozen meals I lived on back in the day before Fake Plastic Fish. Oh, how ignorance was such bliss. That stuff is such awesome comfort food. Especially the hard crunchy cheesy bits on top.

    Sometimes I wish I could return to the simpler time before I really understood how toxic all this crap is. A rainy afternoon w/ Stouffer’s mac and Entenmann’s chocolate cake… those days have flown.

  • http://www.raisingpeanuts.com Donielle @ Raising Peanuts

    Ever since learning about this last year, I’ve slowly been replacing all of the plastic wear in our house with glass. Sure, maybe a little bit isn’t harmful….but how much BPA enters our bodies from multiple sources? And how long does it stay there? With the rate of infertility on the rise, it seems to me, something is negatively affecting our endocrine system!

  • http://www.raisingpeanuts.com Donielle @ Raising Peanuts

    Ever since learning about this last year, I’ve slowly been replacing all of the plastic wear in our house with glass. Sure, maybe a little bit isn’t harmful….but how much BPA enters our bodies from multiple sources? And how long does it stay there? With the rate of infertility on the rise, it seems to me, something is negatively affecting our endocrine system!

  • Gail

    So what do you think about using those BPA free Medela Steam Bags? I have been using them with the BPA free Dr. Brown parts? A lot of people use them with breastfeeding pump parts.

  • Gail

    So what do you think about using those BPA free Medela Steam Bags? I have been using them with the BPA free Dr. Brown parts? A lot of people use them with breastfeeding pump parts.

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  • Beth Terry

    Mmmm… Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese with a side of BPA. Delish.

    I kid, but can’t count the number of Stouffer’s mac & cheese frozen meals I lived on back in the day before Fake Plastic Fish. Oh, how ignorance was such bliss. That stuff is such awesome comfort food. Especially the hard crunchy cheesy bits on top.

    Sometimes I wish I could return to the simpler time before I really understood how toxic all this crap is. A rainy afternoon w/ Stouffer’s mac and Entenmann’s chocolate cake… those days have flown.

  • Bee

    As I am slowly getting ready to welcome a new baby in January I have been increasingly concerned about this issue… I used to use those containers for leftovers that are made to go from freezer or fridge to micro-wave to the table and I now suspect they are all seriously toxic. I threw away quite a bunch of those recently and am considering glass bottles (Born free)for the baby, at least for the house since I like to heat the bottle in the micro-wave, BPA-phtalates-free plastic seem OK for out of the house when a bottle warmer will likely be used.

    I have been wondering though, about the sterilizer. I used to have an Avent one that you put in the micro-wave. I’m getting rid of it and was planning on getting a new one from Born free, they are so convenient and fast. Are there issues with that too? I know there is no food involved in the sterilization process, but could the waves still be harmful with the plastic?? Where can I find a clear answer about that issue? Help please! :-)

  • Lia

    I’m also very concerned about heating breast pump parts. I’m back at work three days per week and for the first month or so, I used those Medela steam bags.. But since I always try to avoid heating plastic at home, I recently stopped because I worried that this might cause something to leach into my milk while pumping (even though Medela claims all their products are BPA-free). Would love to hear some thoughts on this… My nanny also insists on sterilizing everything, even my pump parts.. Is it ok to put plastic in boiling water for a few minutes??

  • Lia

    I’m also very concerned about heating breast pump parts. I’m back at work three days per week and for the first month or so, I used those Medela steam bags.. But since I always try to avoid heating plastic at home, I recently stopped because I worried that this might cause something to leach into my milk while pumping (even though Medela claims all their products are BPA-free). Would love to hear some thoughts on this… My nanny also insists on sterilizing everything, even my pump parts.. Is it ok to put plastic in boiling water for a few minutes??

  • Erica

    We ditched our microwave completely in September… it was a birthday present to me from my family. My husband bought me a nice toaster oven (he splurged because it was my 35th bday) & anything we can’t cook in there gets cooked on the stove w/out any teflon… which is a whole other issue.

    Great job here! Thank you for the invaluable info you provide!!

  • Erica

    We ditched our microwave completely in September… it was a birthday present to me from my family. My husband bought me a nice toaster oven (he splurged because it was my 35th bday) & anything we can’t cook in there gets cooked on the stove w/out any teflon… which is a whole other issue.

    Great job here! Thank you for the invaluable info you provide!!

  • Hannah

    I too am concerned about whether it is safe to microwave breastpump parts in the micro steam bags and sterilize BPA-free bottles before first-time use by boiling.

  • Hannah

    I too am concerned about whether it is safe to microwave breastpump parts in the micro steam bags and sterilize BPA-free bottles before first-time use by boiling.

  • Bee

    As I am slowly getting ready to welcome a new baby in January I have been increasingly concerned about this issue… I used to use those containers for leftovers that are made to go from freezer or fridge to micro-wave to the table and I now suspect they are all seriously toxic. I threw away quite a bunch of those recently and am considering glass bottles (Born free)for the baby, at least for the house since I like to heat the bottle in the micro-wave, BPA-phtalates-free plastic seem OK for out of the house when a bottle warmer will likely be used.

    I have been wondering though, about the sterilizer. I used to have an Avent one that you put in the micro-wave. I’m getting rid of it and was planning on getting a new one from Born free, they are so convenient and fast. Are there issues with that too? I know there is no food involved in the sterilization process, but could the waves still be harmful with the plastic?? Where can I find a clear answer about that issue? Help please! :-)

  • softlanding

    Dear Bee, Lia and Erica,

    I wish there was a clear answer for this issue, but I’ve been researching it for months and still haven’t found one.

    I have to say that the more I research, the more uncomfortable I am with microwaving any plastic, whether BPA-free or not (including microwave sterilizers). We just don’t know enough about how much a microwave will degrade plastic, causing breakdowns in the plastic molecules. I’ve often wondered whether hot spots happen in plastic the same way they happen in food??

    I’ll continue to research this subject and update you as we learn more. But until then, I feel it’s best to stay away from microwaving plastic.

    As for sterilizing BPA-free plastic in boiling water, I have a few thoughts – and please keep in mind that these are just my thoughts (no hard, cold research findings here) . . .

    Boiling water uses a different principle for heating the plastic than does microwaving. It’s a more even heating process, which leads me to think it should be fine for plastics that have been confirmed to be BPA-free.

    Another thought on sterilizing in general . . .

    Many experts believe that it’s not necessary to sterilize baby feeding gear, especially for healthy babies (you should follow the manufacturer’s directions for the first use.) You can read a great explanation on that here.

    Thanks again for taking the time to leave such great comments!

    Alicia

  • softlanding

    Dear Bee, Lia and Erica,

    I wish there was a clear answer for this issue, but I’ve been researching it for months and still haven’t found one.

    I have to say that the more I research, the more uncomfortable I am with microwaving any plastic, whether BPA-free or not (including microwave sterilizers). We just don’t know enough about how much a microwave will degrade plastic, causing breakdowns in the plastic molecules. I’ve often wondered whether hot spots happen in plastic the same way they happen in food??

    I’ll continue to research this subject and update you as we learn more. But until then, I feel it’s best to stay away from microwaving plastic.

    As for sterilizing BPA-free plastic in boiling water, I have a few thoughts – and please keep in mind that these are just my thoughts (no hard, cold research findings here) . . .

    Boiling water uses a different principle for heating the plastic than does microwaving. It’s a more even heating process, which leads me to think it should be fine for plastics that have been confirmed to be BPA-free.

    Another thought on sterilizing in general . . .

    Many experts believe that it’s not necessary to sterilize baby feeding gear, especially for healthy babies (you should follow the manufacturer’s directions for the first use.) You can read a great explanation on that here.

    Thanks again for taking the time to leave such great comments!

    Alicia

  • http://www.breastpumpdeals.com/medela-freestyle-breast-pump.html freestyles

    It's certainly not a good idea to Microwave plastic, I appreciate that you are spreading the word around. Will definitely spread the word from side as well. Thanks for such informative entry.

    Emma

  • http://www.endendoat.blogspot.com Jeanne

    Alicia,

    In our house, we have avoided microwaving plastic for several years. As an endometriosis patient (among many other chronic illnesses), I first became aware of problems with plastics leaching into foods and problems with endocrine disruptors many years back… in the medical reading I do.

    This was before these issues started to be discussed in the media. I have blogged about BPA, phthalates, endocrine disruptors and related issues on my blog.

    Like one of your other commenters aboove, I don't use Teflon-coated pans either. (This is another loaded topic).

    From everything I have read/heard, heat and plastic are just a bad combination for anything food-related. There are many toxins besides BPA that are toxic at issue.

    The heating (or freezing) of plastic changes the chemical composition of the item. For this reason, we don't ever toss a drink bottle into the freezer for a few minutes to chill it… because it's not healthy either.

    BPA may have gotten more media time than some of the other toxins but plastics have plenty more unhealthy ingredients than just BPA. While BPA-free is far better than plastics containing BPA, my personal belief is that heating plastics of any kind in the microwave is unhealthy.

    It is sad to me that the plastics industry is so powerful… In the meantime, human beings' health has been negatively impacted by chemicals that were/are known by people in the plastics industry to be harmful.

    Infertility is associated with exposure to certain toxins in our environment… we are only beginning to understand the connections.

    Just as tobacco industry personnel knowingly sold harmful tobacco products while denying their adverse health effects, plastics industry personnel seem to be more concerned about profits than consumers' health.

    Before BPA got the media attention it has and before enough consumers started shifting their dollars from BPA products to BPA-free products, I had signed a (MomsRising) petition regarding the issue of BPA in baby bottles.

    The petition was an effort to push the top 5 baby bottle manufacturers into at least *offering* safer choices from which consumers could pick. As important as such petitions are at improving consumers' ability to even FIND safer choices, it's imperative for consumers to consistently put their cash behind safer alternative products (whether the issue is BPA or something else) once they are accessible. (Yes, I'm saying this is about money for the plastics industry)!

    These large companies have shown that they will make safer options available if the public demands them.

    Blogs like this are very important at getting the word out to people regarding what the safest options are. Great post, Alicia!

    We certainly can't rely on the plastics industry to give us our information!

    Jeanne

  • http://www.breastpumpdeals.com/brands/medela-breast-pumps.html Medela

    Yes !! Its certainly not safe to use microwave plastic.
    Thanks for such a valuable information.

  • earth_citizen

    My wife had just bought microwaveable plastic containers, at least that's what they advertise on the packaging. They were #5, so I looked it up on here and it says #5 isn't always good. We never heat our food in plastic, we defrost it and use a ceramic or glass container to heat it in. Now I read that freezing the plastic releases the toxin into the food stored too. So now all the stuff I have frozen is bad now too? Yikes, you can never win!!!

  • BlakeKirkpatrick

    The environment that each custodial candidate provides for the child is one of the most important determining factors in a child custody issues case. Some of the things a judge will look for include the safety, size, and condition of the home, and whether or not the child will have to change neighborhoods and schools. This makes it vital for mothers to do everything in their power to improve the perception of their residence. It may even be necessary in some cases to consider moving to a location that better provides the child an opportunity to excel in both school and social growth. The key is to offer a standard of living that is either the same or better than what the child is accustomed to.

  • JENIE

    i WONDER IF IT IS SAFE TO USE PLASTICS TO STORE FOODS IN THE REFRIGERATOR OR FREEZER, AND REMOVE THE FOOD TO HEAT/COOK IT.

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