Food containers are typically made of different varieties of hard plastic or glass. Tupperware is a common high-end brand of container that has been on the market for a long time. Tupperware states that since 2010 they have not sold items containing BPA, but that suggests their products manufactured before 2010 contained BPA. Regrettably, these products should probably be discarded. While BPA has been taken out of many plastics due to consumer demand, it has unfortunately been replaced in some instances with Bisphenol S (BPS) or Bisphenol F (BPF), both of which can affect the body’s endocrine system, just as BPA does. Studies show that BPS is found in 81% of random human blood samples tested. Just as with water bottles, food storage containers that are labeled “BPA-free” may indeed be free of BPA, but this doesn’t mean they are BPS-free or BPF-free or safe from other potentially toxic additives and compounds.
Hard plastic containers will typically have a number on the bottom from 1 through 7 to denote the type of plastic. As detailed previously, the numbers 2, 4, and 5 are generally recognized as being safe for food and drink, whereas the numbers 3, 6, and 7 are considered a higher risk for toxicity. If you choose to use hard plastics for food storage, it’s best not to store acidic or oily foods in them. Containers that are scratched up or badly worn should be discarded. Certainly do not microwave food in these containers or place them in the dishwasher on a high heat setting. You may even consider placing food items in unbleached parchment paper before placing them in a plastic container. This would provide a barrier between the food and the plastic, which may help a bit. Ideally though, I would recommend storing acidic and oily foods in glass containers.
Glass is the safest material to use for storing food and is likely your best choice for food safe containers. Glass is heavy and it can shatter if it is dropped, but it is inert and will not react with food. Prices for glass food storage containers have come down as the demand for them has increased. As mentioned earlier, make sure that the glass containers you use are not painted on the inside where the food is placed. If possible, try to obtain glass containers that are made in the United States and not imported from China. Glass from China has been found to contain lead and/or cadmium, especially if there is paint or enamel on the product. Pyrex and Anchor Hocking are two excellent American manufacturers. Glass containers may be used with plastic lids or may be covered with a plastic wrap or aluminum foil if the food doesn’t come into contact with the covering. Otherwise, use a larger container. Glass Mason jars are also an excellent, inexpensive way to store leftover food.
So, in summary, pay attention to the cookware and food storage items you use in your kitchen. If you are cooking on a nonstick pan coated with Teflon or a similar product, consider switching to a safer alternative such as anodized aluminum or cast iron. If your favorite pan is scratched, scraped, or worn, bite the bullet and toss it. There are many different brands of safe pots and pans on the market, but it is best to stay away from non-anodized aluminum, copper, and coated surfaces such as Teflon. Cooking utensils do not typically get as hot as a frying pan or cooking pot. Given this, wood and silicone utensils seem to be the safest materials at present to cook with.
Try and take the extra time necessary to cook with electricity or gas and forget the microwave. The microwave has poorly understood effects on food, and I wouldn’t use it even to heat up plain water. Better to take a few minutes out of your busy day to prepare your food in an oven or on a range. If you are using plastic wrap, plastic containers, or aluminum foil, consider adding a layer of unbleached parchment paper over the food before covering it with your preferred product. Glass is likely the best material for food safe containers.
These simple alterations to your cooking and food storage practices will significantly reduce your exposure to all kinds of potential toxins in the kitchen.