Safe Food Storage

Ditch those plastic containers and bags for healthier and more environmentally friendly kitchen storage alternatives.

| November / December 2017

  • Store leftovers, frozen meals and to-go lunches in safe and reusable storage options.
    Photo by iStock/Caymia

When preparing lunch, we focus on packing healthy items for a well-rounded diet. But what about the containers we use to carry and store that food? How healthy are they?

Plastic cling wrap, for example, is generally composed of either PVDC (polyvinylidene chloride) or LDPE (low-density polyethylene), both chemicals potentially linked to hormone disruption. The foil we use to wrap up dinner leftovers can leach minute amounts of aluminum into our food, which may be linked to health concerns. And those BPA-free plastic containers into which you pour your child’s milk or water? Manufacturers often just swap out BPA for bisphenol-S or bisphenol-F, similarly harmful endocrine disruptors, to maintain the plastic’s durability.

While only a tiny portion of these chemicals gets into our food supply from containers, in larger amounts these chemicals may disrupt the endocrine system and contribute to other health issues. Experts aren’t clear on how much a person can safely consume. A 2015 study from the University of Calgary found that the BPA substitute bisphenol-S may actually be a more potent endocrine disruptor than BPA.

While plastic and foil offer food-storage convenience, we pay for it environmentally. Plastics, the worst environmental offender, account for 46,000 pieces of ocean litter per square mile, according to the U.N. Environment Program, and they can take hundreds of years to biodegrade.

When selecting a food-storage product for health and sustainability, it pays to do a little research. “I look at the company as a whole,” says zero-waste expert Kathryn Kellogg, author of the blog Going Zero Waste. “Do they use recycled materials? Are they organic materials? What does their packaging look like? The most important thing is to look for products that will last. The most sustainable thing you can do is buy a product that can be used over and over for years to come.”

So, how should we store leftovers, cart to-go lunches and stash meals in the deep freezer? Try these safe (and reusable!) storage options.

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