Playing it Safe with Plastics...

Q: Are plastic containers safe for cooking and food storage?
-Karen M, Los Angeles, CA

A: Many people are concerned with the safety of plastics, includingexperts who continue to research the answers to our questions about whether plastics are safe for cooking, reheating, food storage and food consumption.

The dangers that we are all concerned about have to do with polycarbonate plastics that contain bisphenol-A (BPA) which is often found in reusable water bottles, clear plastic food storage containers,baby bottles and other food storage containers we are exposed to every day. Studies have shown that BPA can leach into food and drinks,especially those that are hot,and have linked BPA to the development of pre-cancerous lesions and abnormal development of reproductive systems in animals. Researchers have not yetproven the same health riskslinked to BPA andhuman health; however, they have not ruled it out either.

It also isn’t know for certain whether washing plastics in hot water causes them to break down and release BPA the next time they are used but since heating plastics in the microwave isn’t recommended, itleads many to think that there can be leaching with any kind of heating. Since there’s no labeling requirement to tell us if BPA is present, experts recommendlimiting exposure by using stainless steel, glass or plastics labled “BPA-free” whenever possible.