I was stunned when I looked into my kitchen, since it was 75% plastic! This was the first time I watched things so closely because I read a line somewhere “plastic is not safe to store all types of food”
Before I start discussing on this topic, I want you to look around yourself to observe how many items around you are made of plastic. Be it your kitchen storage, your laptop, your T.V, bathroom each and every place is filled with plastics.
Well this blog is not to claim that plastic is bad, plastic is a great invention as it’s even recycled and is durable. But yes, everything has pros and con and one amongst that is with food storage. And in this blog I’m going to cover how good or bad plastic can be for food storage, how it will affect your body, how to select the right plastic and what can be the best alternatives to make a safer kitchen for yourself.
So let’s get started!
What is plastic?
We will have to go back to our school days for this, remember the atoms and molecules that we learnt in chemistry. Plastic is just the same, it is a chain of same molecule linked together. And these chains are named as “polymers”.
Now you would understand why most of the plastics name starts with poly – like polyethylene, poly propylene etc.
Moving on to the chemical that is released when you use plastics for food storage –
BPA is the most common chemical that is release when you heat plastic or add hot food to plastic containers. It is named as an endocrine disruptor as it alters the function of the endocrine system and starts acting like the natural hormones in the body. Test reveal that BPA can promote human breast cancer cell growth and also decrease sperm count in men.
According to research, the amount of BPA released from new and used plastic bottles was the same with regards to both speed and quantity. But to my surprise the rate of release increase by 15-55 times faster with hot substances.
Now a lot of you might be thinking what about BPA free containers -aren’t those completely safe?
The Answer is NO!
So yes these containers are BPA free but in place of that, these companies use BPS which is equally toxic to the human body.
Now the next question that came to my mind was about“microwave safe plastics”.
After reading a few articles I came to know that the answer naturally remains NO.
Therefore it is wise not to use plastic containers to reheat food. You can instead use glassware’s which are microwave safe.
Since it’s nearly impossible to make your kitchen plastic free let’s first understand how we can identify the quality of plastic and then what better replacements to it are.
Plastic type 1 – Polyethylene Teraphthalate
Avoid reusing this plastic. Its okay to use them once. It is a light weight smooth plastic safe for a single use only. This plastic contains a possible human carcinogen called antimony. These containers often have a symbol “PET” on them.
It is most commonly found with juices, water, oil, jams etc
Plastic type 2 – High density polyethylene
This is a relatively stiff plastic as compared to type 1. It is known to contain no harmful chemicals.
They are commonly used in milk containers, detergent bottles, curd containers etc. They may have a symbol of HDPE on them.
Plastic type 3 – Polyvinyl Chloride
This plastic contains phthalates that can cause reproductive problems. They are used for the same ingredients like type 1 plastic. They have a symbol “V” on them.
Plastic type 4 – Low Density polyethylene
This plastic is flexible and resistant to solvents and does not release any harmful chemicals. They often have a symbol of LDPE on them.
Plastic type 5 – Polypropylene
These plastics do no leach harmful chemicals into the food. They will commonly have a symbol of “PP” on them.
Plastic type 5 – Polystyrene
Styrofome food containers (egg cartoons, take away boxes), they are made off of polystyrene. Styrene in it is a possible human carcinogen. Which is why it is advisable to avoid these use-n-throw containers and plates!
Plastic type 7 – Polycarbonate
These plastics may contain BPA and therefore avoiding them is a better option. They may often have a symbol of “PC” or “other” on them.
THOUGH PLASTIC TYPE 2, 4, 5 ARE COUNTED TO BE SAFE THERE ISN’T MUCH RESEARCH THAT CLAIMS IT TO BE 100% SAFE AND FREE OF CHEMICALS THEREFORE ALWAYS USE THEM WITH CAUTION.
How to create a safer kitchen?
-If you use plastic make sure you do not add hot food or microwave the plastic.
-Instead of storing vegetables in plastic bags start using cloth bags to store them or buy them fresh.
-For storing grains / oil / spices etc use glass jars instead of plastics.
-Avoid eating parceled food which is wrapped in the worst plastic containers and polythenes instead go to the restaurant and eat fresh.
-Use stainless steel or glass plates and bowls for serving food.
-Stop feeding food to kids in plastic Tiffin’s and containers you can instead use steel for the same.
-Avoid using cling film plastic to wrap food use parchment paper instead of that.
-Avoid storing oily and greasy items in plastic bottles as the leaching on chemicals is higher with fatty food storage.
-For having water use copper bottles or steel bottles instead of plastic bottles.
-While washing plastic containers avoid using hot water and scrubbers as that ruptures the plastic and leads to release of chemicals.
-Last but not the least if you use any plastic containers make sure it is not exposed to sunlight as that will again have a similar effect like pouring hot food in plastics.
There is no doubt that we cannot make a kitchen which is “100% plastic free” but we can surely reduce the usage and prefer the right kind whenever we do have to use it.
Her fitness mantra is “do not start with a diet that has an expiration date, instead, focus on a healthy lifestyle that will last forever”. Disti has completed post graduation in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics. She is also a certified Diabetes Educator.
She is keen on bringing together her acquired knowledge on nutrition and other health aspects with people’s goals to achieve a healthy life. For her fitness is not being better than someone else; it’s about being better than who we used to be. “We don’t have to be great to start, but we have to start to be great”. So give your best!
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for any consults.