Microwaving with Plastic | Cook's Illustrated
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Microwaving with Plastic

By Cook's Illustrated Published January 2011

Does plastic wrap release harmful chemicals into food during microwaving?

The chemicals contained in some plastic wraps (and in some plastic containers) are potentially harmful if the plastic is heated to the point that it melts or burns (at lower temperatures, plastic is essentially inert). To avoid exposure to these chemicals, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends using only wrap and containers that are marked “microwave-safe”—many manufacturers have recently reformulated their products, which now carry this label—and leaving several inches of room between the food and the plastic wrap during cooking. This advice is particularly important if the food is high in fat or oil, since most of the suspect chemicals in plastic are fat (rather than water) soluble. Our advice: Use ceramic or glass cookware for microwaving, and instead of plastic wrap, cover food with an overturned microwave-safe bowl or plate. In the test kitchen, we have found that this retains moisture just as well as plastic wrap, with zero risk.

ZERO RISK To prevent the leaching of harmful chemicals, cover food with a plate instead of plastic wrap in the microwave.