Why I Don't Store My Leftovers in Plastic Containers
There are several reasons why I don’t like to store my leftovers (or any food or drink items, for that matter), in plastic containers. Without going too in-depth, my main reasons for this have to do with aesthetic and, more importantly, health safety.
Multiple studies have come out in recent years, suggesting the potential negative health effects of plastics and the way they interact with food. One of the main concerns being explored is the ‘Estrogenic Activity’ (EA), or the hormonal effects of toxins released when foods are stored in plastic containers of any kind.
Plastic itself is a combination of soluble organic substances, made up of compounds such as Bisphenol-A (BPA), which has been shown to cause multiple adverse health effects, including effects on hormone levels in humans. These toxins are easily detectable in plastic food containers, flexible plastic bags and similar materials, even before being put to ‘real-life’ use (like heating, cooling, dishwashing, etc.). Long-term use - and subsequent breakdown of the plastic material over time - only increases the release of these chemicals.
Over the past decade, with increased awareness of the potential adverse effects of BPA on the body, manufacturers have substituted Bisphenol-A with the compounds Bisphenol-F (BPF) or Bisphenol-S (BPS). However, these ‘BPA-free’ plastics were eventually found to release chemicals having the same magnitude or more hormonal effects on the body than did BPA-containing products.
So, overall, avoiding plastics for use in storing food or beverages is best. Whenever I cook or prepare foods, I always prefer to store them in glass or stainless steel. These materials are completely inert (no chemicals to leach) and they last indefinitely. If you must use plastics for the sake of safety (glass can break) or cost-efficiency, try to only store foods for short periods of time, and never freeze or heat up foods or drinks in them. Exposure to extreme temperatures only accelerates the breakdown of the already porous material.
These are just a few of my favorite alternatives to plastic food storage containers: