Plastic in the Microwave

At work on Friday, I got an e-mail from a colleague that went:

CANCER News From John Hopkins Medical Center

JUST A REMINDER…….

No plastic containers in microwave
No plastic water bottles in freezer
No plastic wrap in microwave

Johns Hopkins has recently sent this out in their newsletter — it’s definitely worth noting. This information is being circulated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Dioxin Carcinogens cause cancer, especially breast cancer.

Don’t freeze your plastic water bottles with water as this releases dioxins in the plastic.

Dr. Edward Fujimoto from Castle Hospital was on a TV program explaining this health hazard. (He is the manager of the Wellness Program at the hospital.) He was talking about dioxins and how bad they are for us. He said that we should not be heating our food in the microwave using plastic containers. This applies to foods that contain fat. He said that the combination of fat, high heat and plastics releases dioxins into the food and ultimately into the cells of the body.

Dioxins are carcinogens and highly toxic to the cells of our bodies.

Instead, he recommends using glass, Corning Ware or ceramic containers for heating food. You get the same results, without the dioxins.

And it goes on from there.

Great, I thought. Carol had heard something about this, and wondered how this would affect Lydia. But something about this piece didn’t sit right. Notably, the article didn’t cite where Castle Hospital was located, so I found this piece, which indicated that the article was “Unproven! & Fiction!” for reasons you can read yourselves.

HOWEVER, deep in the rebuttal piece, there is this paragraph:

The Food and Safety Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has published guidelines for safe cooking in microwave ovens and warns against using materials that are not regarded as microwave safe.
CLICK HERE for those guidelines.
You’ll note that one of the guidelines is to avoid letting plastic wraps touch food!
That is another issue, however, and not related to dioxins or high heat in microwaves.

So, as a librarian, I appreciated this more nuanced response to the issue than the one that yet another colleague found at the mythbreaker Snopes.

Yet another response:

I don’t believe there is full agreement on whether plastics are safe connected with food prep. There are other chemicals besides dioxins released that offer a good enough reason to avoid plastic in the microwave. See note below from Columbia University.
Even the snopes.com site confirms that plastics release other harmful chemicals when heated and cooled, that appears further along in the article ‘dispelling’ the rumor.

Many products are given the safe go-ahead until they are recalled when people become ill.
I think it’s really a personal choice.

Totally coincidentally, I get THIS link in an e-mail.

All of this contradictory advice should leave you TOTALLY confused.

This is the reason nothing gets done in offices in America on Friday afternoons.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

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