It is normal and easy to heat plastic dishes in the microwave, but it can be harmful if we do not use the right dishes. Dishes made of synthetics and polymers have replaced organic dishes in our daily lives, and many people use them to heat food in the microwave, but are they safe?
We know that heating food in the microwave causes molecular vibration and changes its chemical composition. Similarly, the microwave can also change the chemical composition of the dishes used, and the use of this type of dish in the microwave has its pros and cons. Therefore, in this section, we will examine the disadvantages of using plastic containers in the microwave.
How many types of plastic do we have?
We classify plastics into two categories: natural or synthetic materials. The prostheses include thermoplastic, thermostat, and elastomer and are marked with a three-arrow triangle recycling symbol. This three arrow symbol is an international symbol of recycling, and inside you will find a number from 1 to 7:
PET (polyethylene terephthalate)
It has many features such as transparency and color acceptance, it is strong, light, and easy to recycle, and many manufacturers use it for beverage packaging.
HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene)
Flexible but slightly hard and resistant to chemical effects, high and low temperatures. Colorless, almost opaque, and printable, it can be painted or glued and is commonly used in food packaging, cleaning products, or motor oil.
PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
It is a very flexible and transparent plastic that many companies use to make bags, laboratory utensils, or frozen food and can be used to make lids, trash cans, and pipes.
LDPE (low-density polyethylene)
Due to its ease of disposal of toxins, this plastic is slightly recyclable, has the least use in food containers, and is resistant to acids due to its hardness for pipes, plumbing, medical equipment, detergent bottles, and other uses.
This plastic is hard and thermally stable, and it is easy to mold and paint. We see it in the lids of bottles resistant to chemicals, boiling water, and detergents, and this is the only thing the World Health Organization recommends for food contact.
We know this as a sturdy plastic cup used for food packaging, toys, and labs.
Other items (mixed plastic)
This product, which is difficult to recycle, is composed of several materials and is found in countless objects such as water bottles, small glasses, medical containers, car parts, and compact discs.
Which of these dishes is not safe to use in the microwave?
According to the rules and identification codes, containers used in the microwave have numbers 2 and 5 or are labeled “usable microwave containers,” They are used in the microwave without changing the physical or chemical stability and without moving particles. However, they are designed to be toxic.
Be careful when using baby bottles. Some manufacturers use polycarbonate to make it, a substance that disrupts the endocrine glands in the microwave bisphenol-A and is now banned from production and companies. And companies are replacing it with polypropylene or polyethersulfone, which is safe for microwave heating. However, you should still check the product label to make sure they do not contain BPA.
As you know, there are a variety of plastics in the home that we tend to reuse, and they are used to store food or drink, even if they were not designed for that purpose.
What is the danger of plastic containers?
Some plastics release dioxins, which are toxic and carcinogenic due to cold or heat, and are transported to food through chemicals.
Although the transfer of toxic substances has been overestimated in some analyses, scientific arguments should be made with caution.
If placed on container number 7, it means bisphenol A, which in large quantities can be harmful to the body because it is an exogenous substance that can cause obesity, endocrine changes, and chronic diseases.
Box 3 shows the presence of phthalates, chemical compounds used as emollients harmful to health.
Never heat food in plastic microwave containers with No. 4 or PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or No. 6 or PS (polystyrene).
Another study found that a high percentage of people who frequently use the microwave do not know the proper plastic to use, and worse, use any plastic to heat food. This is the possibility of transferring foreign matter from the dish’s surface to the food.
In addition, the lifestyle and work that overheats high-fat foods exacerbate the problem. The transfer of toxins when heating dishes with these properties increases, and the contact time increases.
Cancer by placing plastic containers in the microwave:
Heating food with plastic containers in the microwave increases the risk of cancer in people because heat above 40 degrees causes the secretion of polymer in plastic containers, which can cause serious malignancy in the gastrointestinal tract if used for a long time. In addition, the release of digoxin in plastic containers increases the risk of cancer, especially breast cancer in women. Digoxin is very toxic to cells in the human body. There is a risk of producing it in disposable dishes, especially because of the heat of high-fat foods, so never use the microwave to heat food in disposable dishes and remove food quickly.
Other options for use inside the microwave:
If you do not have safe plastic containers for use in the microwave, you can use glass or ceramics to withstand the temperature without any problems. It is safe to use paper or cardboard, preferably white, if the food is not heated for more than a few seconds.
Among the best options are silicone glass and Pyrex, which can be used in microwave ovens and conventional ovens.
Disposable vegetable dishes are made from natural plant materials such as corn and wheat starch. You can put them in the microwave because these dishes do not use chemicals. When using hot and greasy materials, no harmful substances enter them. Be. In other words, these dishes have no harmful chemical effects in contact with liquids and hot foods.
It would help if you never put metal dishes in the microwave; however, according to the manufacturers’ recommendations, the use of aluminum foil is not a problem.
Important and general rules about the use of plastic containers:
To keep food safe, whether you heat it or not, follow the general rules:
Use BPA-free phthalate products.
Use glass or microwave ovens to heat food.
Use paper towels to cover food instead of plastic, as plastic lids can contain phthalates.
Avoid storing food in disposable plastics.
Avoid reusing plastic water bottles or containers on food.
Do not expose water bottles to heat or sunlight.
Avoid placing hot liquids or food in plastics.
Avoid freezing plastic containers in the microwave.
Read the recycling symbols on plastic containers and set aside containers marked 1, 3, 6, or 7.