Sunday, March 28, 2010

"glad wrap" in microwaves only use with fruit and vege's

I dismissed the  scaremongering emails that came out 5-10 years ago about how nasty cling film was. They always implied that little to no work had been done on determining if plastics in cling film contaminated food, and what studies had been done showed disastrous results of high contamination. I dismissed them because they were sensationalist and I suspected quite a bit of work had been done looking at this issue.

Well the good news is that I was right about studies being done and that things aren't as bad as they seem. However there is still some disturbing information that I have uncovered in 1997 paper.

So first the good results. Because cling film, and it associated chemicals don't mix in water, using cling film on food that is low in fat and high in water eg vege's and fruits, minimal plastics migration into the food occurs. Thus you can cook your vege's in the microwave without worrying about plastic. Now I would love to say that we didn't use our microwave to cook vege's - there are possible health impacts - we live in the 21st Century and know others do to. Thus cooking via steaming over stove is not always practical.

The bad news is that for fatty foods significant migration occurs. In theory cling films that had higher migration into foods due to ways they are manufactured are not allowed to be used for high fat food. Now this study was done in Demark which has quite tight regulations regarding food. They found that 77% of cling films had higher levels of the chemical DEHA. than the maximal allowable transfer from the plastic to the food. DEHA  has been shown to cause liver cancer in mice!

What I find really scary is that the limit of migration is either less than 10 mg per square centimeter or no more than 60 mg/kg of food. So what this means is that over a thumb nail area 10mg of plasticizers can migrate into the food. 10 mg seems like a very high figure! Yet 77% of cling films have more migration than this! Testing had already been carried out in 1991 and 1995 before the 1997 tests. Therefore these problems should have been solved - but were not.

What I also didn't know was Great Britain they recommend to avoid the use of cling film in cooking fatty foods.  
Many fatty foods are covered in cling film. Think of hot chickens in the supermarket. Cold meats are almost exclusively wrapped in plastic and cling film as is cheese. I don't think you can purchase general cheese not wrapped in plastic! So this is a challenge to why I shop, guess this is another reason to use a local butcher instead of purchasing meat from a supermarket.

Reference: Petersen et al Migration from PVC cling films compared with their field of application. Food additives and Contaminats vol 14 1997 pg 345
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