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Feb 27, 2013 10:53 AM

Safe Microwave Dishes?

With all the buzz about BPA and dangerous chemicals leaching into food-- ESPECIALLY when the food is heated! I've sworn off any type of plastic "microwave safe" dish for a few years now.

I only use glass and sometimes a ceramic cup or plate.

Also you have to beware of any frozen foods that come all ready for heating in a plastic dish. To be safe, you must remove the food from the plastic dish and put it in a glass dish.

Do lots of other folks have similar concerns about microwave dishes? I've seen lots of buzz about BPA in cans, but very little about what to microwave safely in.

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  1. BPA is Bisphenol A, it's a chemical used in the manufacture of a couple of different types of plastics, mainly polycarbonate and epoxy. You no longer see polycarbonate baby bottles for example as they have been baned in Canada, the US and most of Europe. There are a lot of plastics that do not contain BPA and are microwave transparrent. I've worked in the plastics industry for almost 40 years and yes, I would avoid heating food or drink containers that were made from plastics that contain BPA. However, there are any number of plastics that would not, at this point, cause me concern.

    Newer homes are being constructed with PEX water piping, a crosslinked polyethelyne, and fittings from polysulfone. These appear to be consumer safe and are BPA free.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mikie

      Mikie, I have a bunch of plastic "Littonware" microwave containers that I was given for a wedding present probably 20 years ago, that I still use. It's a hard plastic with a tan marbled color to it. Do you know anything about that and if it would be safe? I suppose it's a bit late to be asking, but oh well.

      As for safe microwave dishes, I just bought this one off of Amazon and it works very well. It's a ceramic bowl, with a plastic "stay cool" holder around it. The ceramic heats up, but it has handles on the plastic holder so you can handle it easily. It seems to work very well.

      1. re: mwk

        Unfortunately, I'm not familiar enough with "Littonware" to know for certian what type of plastic this is made of. Anchor Hocking used to use polysulfone, but if I remember correctly, it was a bit translucent and not opaque as the pictures of Littonware indicate. I wish I could be of more help.

    2. How could one ever determine whether a plastic microwaveable dish is safe? Answer: by not using it. Glass or ceramic plates or cups seem preferable.

      MWK: That Walter Drake contraption looks pretty interesting, but is it made in China? Very different QC in China, I wonder if it is trustworthy...

      1 Reply
      1. re: lemarais

        I'm sure it's made in China. I suppose you are right that makes even the ceramic bowl somewhat suspect.

        I guess that leaves pyrex...

      2. I'm with you. I tend to bring my lunch leftovers to work in plastic rubbermaid type containers. But I keep a soup bowl and small plate in my desk and transfer food to them before microwaving. I'm not a strict purist and will sometimes leave an item in plastic if I am going to heat for less than a minute. Otherwise, I transfer to ceramic or glass.

        1. I certainly wouldn't worry about microwaving something in plastic occasionally. But it's not unreasonable to prefer using glass or ceramic (although please, please don't use a ceramic piece with an unknown origin. Lead is far scarier than any plastic you'd be using), particularly on a regular basis.

          I prefer not to put plastic in the microwave partly because I have trouble keeping track of what's microwave safe, and partly because I grew up pretty much only reheating in pyrex glass containers or corelle dishes. Using plastic for anything other than dry food storage is simply somewhat foreign to me.

          1 Reply
          1. re: celesul

            It's my understanding that "microwave safe" has nothing to do with the plastic leaching into the food-- it only has to do with the plastic handling the heat without melting or something worse.

            My issue is the consumption of some of the ingredients in the plastic, including BPA, because they were passed into the food during the heating process.

            I think using wax paper is totally safe, though...