Are Plastic Food Storage Containers Safe?
After blogging about plastic beverage bottles I received a question about plastic food containers. A great question, with a different answer. Plastic beverage bottles are usually made with Plastic #1, which is generally safe, if only used once and doesn’t sit around getting handled for an extended amount of time before consumption (which they usually do from processing plant, packaging, shipping, distribution, ice chest, to mouth.) Plastic food packaging and storage containers are made from different plastics.
Food tubberware is generally made from Plastic # 5 which is not known to leech any chemicals. Check the bottom of your plastic food storage containers for the number inside the triangular recycling symbol to make sure you have #5. Plastic #4 is used to make ziplock sandwich bags and plastic grocery store bags. #4 is also not known to leech any chemicals. Both plastics can be washed and reused until they get cloudy, then throw them out.
Plastic # 3 is used to make shrink wrap and does leech harmful chemicals. Glad and Handiwrap brands make plastic wrap that does not contain PVC, but most grocery store purchased meat is wrapped in #3. Unwrap meat as soon as possible and store in large ziplock bags. Avoid plastics # 3, #6, and #7 as they all contain harmful chemicals.
Plastics #1 and #2 are recyclable and sometimes #4 can be recycled in bins at grocery stores – only dry plastic bags should be recycled. Plastic #3, #5, #6 and #7 are not recyclable.
Because plastic #5 can not be recycled, I prefer to use a more eco-friendly method for storing my leftovers. I bought glass tubberware with air tight plastic lids called Glasslockby Wellbeing; available at Costco. Any brand will do, but theseare amazing at keeping food fresh longer than plastic containers. Put the glass containers right in the microwave and eat leftovers right out of them…no need to dirty a plate. Then put the glass container and lid right in the dishwasher. Glass can be reused infinitely with no health risks.