Cling wrap dangers

Thursday May 15 04:00 AEST

New research has found that plastic wrap may cause severe medical problems and even cancer.

TODAY's resident nutritionist Joanna McMillan-Price explains how we can avoid the dangers in our kitchen.

"There are two schools of thought surrounding plastic wrap," she says. "One is that there is a very real concern and the other says there are certain plastics that are safe."

"I'm never comfortable heating food in plastic," she says.

The main concerns have developed after warnings that plastic wrap may cause hormonal, impaired foetal development and cancer.

Heating food in plastic is the worst case causing a release of xeno-oestrogens during the heating of the plastic.

"Most concerns with plastics are that they contain plasticisers or PVC and migration of BPA to food is most likely under heat, the higher the heat the more transfer," she explains.

While there are some manufacturers that make plastic containers that are safe when heated Ms McMillan Price suggests not to use plastic containers (not labelled microwave safe to heat food) for repeated reheating.

"When we look at the big picture, the level of environmental oestrogen is very small so they can't have a detrimental effect," she explains. "However, more of our foods are including plastics in packaging and we should be aware of the dangers."

Tips to avoid harmful plastics in the kitchen:

  • Buy food loose when possible or in paper.
  • Reheat in glass rather than plastic.
  • Use Pyrex containers, preferably glass.
  • You CAN store food using cling wrap as long as it doesn't come into contact with the food.
  • Fatty foods are most likely to absorb BPA so don't wrap meat or cheese in PVC to be safe.
  • Cling wrap stating 'microwave safe' does not contain PVC or plasticisers and therefore minimal risk according to FSANZ.
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