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Plastic in the Kitchen: Is it Safe?

Plastic is one of the most versatile materials there is. It is used for making a variety of things including appliances, furniture, gadgets, toys, packaging, kitchen utensils and many more. In many houses, you can see plastics everywhere. If used for other purposes not having to do with food or water, plastic can’t do any harm to our health.

However, in most kitchens, it is almost impossible not to see plastic materials. There’s always a plastic container, plastic gadget, plastic packaging, plastic utensil, plastic appliance and many more. Plastic contains toxic chemicals that can leak to our food or water if not properly used.

If it is unavoidable to use plastic in the kitchen, here are some important things that you can do to avoid the danger of exposure to the toxic chemicals from plastic:

1. Know the types of plastic that are safer to use. Plastic items are classified based on resin identification coding system. Plastics are coded from 1 to 7. Among them, only numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5 are safe to use. They are: 1 – polyethyelene terephthalate (PETE), 2- high-density polyethylene (HDPE), 4 – low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and 5 – polypropylene (PP). When you buy any plastic material for your kitchen, make sure that they bear any of these names or codes.

2. Never heat a plastic. When heated, plastic leaks out toxic chemicals 55 times faster than normal of according to Scientific American. So even if the plastic says it is microwave safe, never use it in the microwave. Avoid also putting hot food or hot water in it.

3. Substitute plastic for stainless or glass containers. Stainless and glass containers are safer than plastic. Instead of using plastic water bottles, use stainless steel water bottles. Instead of using a plastic serving bowl, use glass and so on.

4. Don’t store hot, acidic or fatty food in plastic containers. These types of food cause plastic to leach out toxic chemicals. Store these foods in metal, glass or lead-free ceramic containers instead.

5. Don’t reuse commercial food packaging and plastic bottles. These plastic containers are not designed to be reused so they are more prone to leaching when used continually. You can either recycle them for other uses or sell them as scrap.

6. Discard reusable plastic containers (types 4 and 5) when worn out or scratched.

7. Hand-wash plastic. Do not wash plastic in the dishwasher because the heat in the dishwasher can leak out toxic chemicals.

8 If using cling wrap, avoid contact with food. Or better, substitute cling wrap with unbleached wax paper, glass or stainless steel container with cover.

9. When buying any plastic material for your kitchen, make sure that it indicates the type of plastic it is made of. And again, stick to types 1, 2, 4 and 5. If not indicated, don’t buy it.

Plastic materials are no doubt very useful in the kitchen. They are inexpensive and provide many benefits. Although useful, using plastics has also many drawbacks to our health if not properly used. But by observing the tips mentioned above, you can get the most out of plastic without putting your health at risk.

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