Blog post: Microwave Hazards


In today’s fast paced society, microwaves are a useful commodity.  The ability to cook or warm food quickly and easily meets the needs of a society that is constantly moving and looking for the quickest way to complete a task.  But are the containers being used in the microwave safe?

According to the FDA, you should only use containers that have been labeled for use in the microwave.  The issue begins with the fact that we are surrounded by easy to use plastic or Styrofoam containers.  We use containers in microwave that have held butter, mayonnaise, yogurt, whipped topping and many more foods.  Most of these containers are not microwave safe.  We have takeout dinners that are in Styrofoam or plastic containers that are only meant to be microwaved one time and in some cases not at all.  These types of containers can be found in homes across the nation and some of them are used over and over to heat foods in the microwave.

According to the FDA, you should only use containers that have been labeled for use in the microwave.  The FDA has recognized the potential for health hazards to transfer into food while heating. So the FDA regulates plastic containers and other materials that come into contact with food products. It requires manufacturers to test these containers to ensure that they meet FDA standards and specifications. The FDA reviews all the test data before approving a container for use in the microwave.

What are the hazards that can migrate into food from plastic or Styrofoam containers once heated?  Plasticizers are additives that are added to make a material more flexible and pliable.  It also reduces the brittleness of a product.  Bisphenol-A and phthalates are two common plasticizers that are found in these products.  In high enough doses these compounds can interfere with the endocrine system and lead to tumors and birth defects.

Make sure the containers being used for heating foods in your microwave have been approved by the FDA for microwave use.  These products will be labeled as “microwave safe”.  Also avoid using old, scratched or cracked containers because these are also more likely to leach hazardous materials into your food.  Remember, most take out containers, water bottles and condiment containers are not meant to be used in the microwave.



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