by Alicia Voorhies, RN
Silicone implants in the body have been linked to health concerns and have been hotly debated and studied for years. Can silicone in dishes effect the food it comes in contact with, and thus our bodies in the same way?
Silicone Safety in Dishes
Based on my research, food grade silicone used outside the body for food contact is chemically inert, stable, won’t leach into food, or off-gas.
Health Canada confirms what I’ve found – that silicone does not react with food or drinks or produce any hazardous fumes.
One of my favorite consumer advocates, Debra Lynn Dadd, explains that silicone is not toxic to aquatic or soil organisms, it is not hazardous waste, and while it is not biodegradable, it can be recycled after a lifetime of use.
A Little Background on Silicone
Food grade silicone is a synthetic rubber made with bonded silicon (a natural element abundant in sand and rock) and oxygen.
- Can handle temperature extremes, transferring easily from freezer to microwave
- Flexible and shatter resistant
- Stain resistant
- Dishwasher safe
- Odor and stain resistant
Silicone Cookware vs. Dishware
Silicone cookware may turn out to be be non-problematic, but I’m waiting for more definitive research on that front before diving in. I do, however, feel very comfortable recommending silicone dishes as a safe option that won’t leach harmful chemicals into foods.
Silicone dishes are a great alternative to plastics containing known carcinogens or endocrine disruptors. Its use in baby bottle nipples stretches back over 30 years, standing head and shoulders above nitrosamine-tainted synthetic latex nipples that break down quickly under repeated exposure to heat, moisture and detergents.
Tips for Choosing and Using Silicone Dishes
- Be sure to choose dishes made from 100% food grade silicone. Fillers can compromise the quality and durability of silicone.
- Confirm that all colorants used are not BPA-based and that lead testing has been done, especially for brightly colored products.
- Don’t be fooled by thermoplasticized rubber (TPR) dishes. They look and feel much the same, but TPR isn’t as durable and doesn’t tolerate high heat like silicone does. Products like measuring cups made from TPR often have a rigid plastic skeleton and may warp when exposed to heat.
- Be aware that phosphate-free dishwashing detergents may cause silicone dishes to end up with water spots or hold onto certain smells/tastes. It’s no big deal, just add some white vinegar or a non-toxic rinse aid like Ecover to your wash cycle.
There are times when durability and convenience win out, leaving my glass and stainless steel dishes in the cupboard. So given the choice between plastics made with carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting chemicals, I’d opt for silicone anytime.