Don't Microwave Plastics!

This is yet another great article (gotta love the internet!) about the dangers of microwaving, microwaving with plastic, even if it IS marked “microwave approved” and, plastic food wrap in general. Makes me think we’d all be safer living in a swamp fighting off crocodiles than in the “safety” of our modern homes – at least you’d have a better chance of seeing the danger coming! Microwaving — Dangers to Your Food and You?

Not wanting to perpetuate a myth, or yet another Urban Legend, I took a look at some of the public relations chatter generated by mainstream-respected institutions who are claiming microwave plastic wrap and food containers are getting a bad “rap”. Here’s one from Cornell – Microwaving Foods and Dioxin Formation

But hey! Cornell! Even though the intent of your article is to reassure me that plastic wraps are in fact “safe”, I would have appreciated you referencing some real, honest-to-goodness research studies in lieu of buddies-talking-over-microwaved-lunches:

“Professor Joe Hotchkiss, Cornell University Department of Food Science, and I agreed that it appears that the concerns are based on old information that was addressed years ago by the FDA, the food packaging industries, and the food industry.”

The most beneficial component of this article is the view, suggested by Dr. Ed Machuga, FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Nutrition, that “To minimize the amount of these chemicals migrating from plastic films to fatty foods, we recommend that, if these films are used to cover food being heated in a microwave oven, the consumer should try to not let the film touch the actual surface of the food”.

That view was repeated in A Bad Wrap For Microwaving Food? which contains “hedging” comments made by a representative of the Plastics Council and an FDA representative:

...”And the Plastics Council also steered me to Liz Weiss, a registered dietician and free-lance food and nutrition producer, who said she trusts the reports of government and industry agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control, which she said monitors chemical levels in human blood.

She did, however, voice a concern that was echoed by the FDA’s Dr. Pauli and several others who seem to be hedging just a bit. “I always keep it (plastic wrap) about an inch over the food.” And Dr. Pauli, as well, said: “My general advice is to use good sense. If food is in the microwave, plastic wrap shouldn’t be in contact with the food” but “above the food.” That advice also is printed on the cartons of some major plastic food wraps.”

Okay. So. Let’s think this through. Representatives of the Plastics Council and FDA keep their plastic wrap an inch over their food, restricting any plastic wrap and food contact. Just to be safe, I imagine. Just in case. But there’s really no issue for us to worry about, or so they say. All the other information out there, claiming plastic wrap is dangerous is just silly “hype” in their views and we’re fools to fall for it.

Something yet again stinks at the institutions we once trusted.

While Cornell is probably “spot on” when saying “Dioxin” is a non-issue in plastic wrap, especially microwaved plastic, they’re not being forthcoming. Xenoestrogens appear to be the real culprit not only in plastic wrap, microwaving plastic, but also personal care products, detergents, clothing, and plastic drinking bottles. For more information that should get us all to start reading labels, even on our shampoo, check out, Xenoestrogens Interfere with your Normal Hormones by Elizabeth Smith, M.D.

P.S. I’d suggest throwing the microwave out, considering how it destroys all nutrition in food, but as an alternative, keep it around to use as a “sponge”-proofing compartment for making your very own sourdoughs. There’s no need to ever power it up, of course, but if you’ve got an over-the-stove model as I do, it does make a handy incubator.


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