Tupperware has been around since 1946 when Earl Tupper introduced it to Americans from his home in Massachusetts. Americans have grown to love Tupperware, especially for packing meals to bring to work or leftovers. Yet, there is a debate about whether or not it is safe to reheat your food in a microwave while it is in a Tupperware container.
It is safe to reheat food in the microwave while it is in most Tupperware containers. Most Tupperware containers have been crafted to remove the more deadly chemicals that used to be in Tupperware. Still, there are a few Tupperware containers that are not microwave-safe.
The convenience of being to eat your food right out of a Tupperware container may be tempting, and we have all done it a time or two, but you need to be able to tell whether or not your Tupperware container is safe to eat out of. There are several ways to see if your Tupperware container is safe. Continue reading to learn more about how to safely reheat your food in a Tupperware container.
One chemical that is in all plastics is dioxins. No matter what you do when you microwave your food, you probably are going to get a small number of dioxins in your food.
Dioxins are known to cause immune suppression, cancer, and birth defects in animals. Another risk of dioxins is that they can act as endocrine disruptors. This means that dioxins can act as or block hormones in the human body. This can cause major disruptions.
In the early 1990s, a study was done on a group of monkeys that exposed them to food that had dioxins mixed in. The result was that 79% of those monkeys developed endometriosis. Since monkeys are humans’ closest living relatives, it is likely that we would have the same adverse effects if we consume high levels of dioxin.
No level of consuming dioxins is considered safe since very small amounts of dioxin have been documented as the reason for impaired development, reproduction, neurological, and immune functions. This means that any form of microwaving plastic is bound to increase those risks.
Yet, we still microwave plastic. Dioxins are even passed from mother to developing infants across the placenta and through breastfeeding if she consumes it. Therefore, in your lifetime, you probably have been exposed to dioxins.
Types of Tupperware Plastics and their Durability
Different types of Tupperware use different kinds of plastic. This can affect how safe it is to heat your food in Tupperware. Some plastics use more toxic chemicals that leak into your food and can hurt you if you consume them. There are two chemicals that can be found in plastics that are more toxic than others that you can avoid. These chemicals are Phthalates and Bisphenol A, also known as BPA.
Both Phthalates and BPA are used to make hard, shatterproof plastic. This means your favorite durable container may not be safe to stick into the microwave. These chemicals are also found in the lining of canned foods and beverages.
When phthalates and BPA get into the human body, it affects the estrogen or testosterone levels a person has. This means that phthalates and BPA are endocrine disruptors. This can lead to problems with cancer, problems in the reproductive organs, and countless other health problems.
Heavier forms of phthalates are actually banned from children’s products such as baby bottles and the lining of food and beverage cans due to the health issues mentioned above. These are very dangerous chemicals that can have lasting damage to your body. The best way to tell if your plastic has phthalates or BPA in it is to check the bottom of your plastic items. If it has the number 7 engraved on it, then it most definitely has phthalates and/or BPA in it, so you should not heat it in the microwave.
How to Find out if Your Tupperware is Microwave Safe
Many Tupperware companies are finding out about these toxic chemicals and are creating Tupperware containers that do not have BPA or phthalates in them. These are the safer Tupperware containers to use. As mentioned if the number 7 is engraved on the bottom of your Tupperware, do not heat food in it, as that means that the Tupperware company definitely used toxic chemicals to make that plastic.
There are other signs though that tell you that your Tupperware is safe. The 3 main signs used are the microwave logo with 3 wavy lines inside, the microwave-safe label, and having inscribed 3 to 5 wavy lines on the bottom side of your Tupperware. If you see any of these symbols, you know that your Tupperware is safe to heat up in the microwave.
Another sign you can look for is if your Tupperware has the number 5 inscribed on the bottom of your container. The number 5 states that it was created from PP also known as Polypropylene. This is a safe chemical that can be heated up without causing health repercussions.
CEPT containers are also safe for microwave usage. They do have their limitations, though. If you microwave CEPT for too long, it will melt in your microwave. However, it is crystalized to help it withstand high temperatures.
APET, on the other hand, is not microwave-safe. APET is the same plastic used to make deli containers, water bottles, supermarket bottles, and cold food packaging. APET is not strong enough to be able to withstand the heat of the microwave and will melt around your food, which will cause chemicals to seep into your food.
Overall, if you look for these things on your Tupperware you will be able to make sure that you are safe from toxic chemicals. It will also make sure that your Tupperware does not melt inside of your microwave.
How Long Can Tupperware be Microwaved For?
Even with your microwavable safe Tupperware, you should be wary not to microwave your Tupperware for too long. Tupperware is not meant to be a microwavable dish. It is suggested that when you do use Tupperware to reheat food, you should use systematic microwaving. This means you should avoid overheating or reheating your food for extended periods of time. This means you should pull out your Tupperware after a long heating up and allow your container to cool down before sticking it back in the microwave again.
The main concern for heating up Tupperware is that a meal can get so hot that it will destroy your container. I myself have melted a Tupperware container before. Never eat food that was in a melted Tupperware container, as you will be exposed to potentially harmful chemicals.
Fat and sugar, which have a higher heat limit than the boiling point of water, which is around 100 degrees Celsius or 212 degrees Fahrenheit, can melt your Tupperware containers. Therefore, make sure you do not use Tupperware to cook food. Instead, make sure you use Tupperware solely for the purpose of reheating or defrosting your food. Also, make sure that your food has cooled down slightly before you put it into a Tupperware container.
Tupperware has said that they suggest you only heat your food in their container for around 3 minutes. If you need to reheat your food for a period longer than 3 minutes, take your food out of the microwave, stir it, then stick it back in for another 3 minutes or less.
How to Microwave Tupperware Safely
There are many tips on how you can make sure that you reheat your food in Tupperware safely. To begin, make sure that fatty meals such as cheese and meat that cook with boiling water are heated using a systematic and sequential way of reheating. These foods are known for cooking at higher temperatures. This will cause more chemicals to leak out of your container and raise the likelihood of your container melting.
If you are reheating a lot of food at once, make sure that you split up the food so you are not putting so much heat stress on your container. It will take longer to heat up a larger amount of food, but it will take the same length of time to heat up your Tupperware container.
One common mistake people make when reheating food is that they do not heat their food, stir their food, and then reheat their food again. This is an important practice because microwaves tend to create inconsistent heating with cool and hot spots in food. This leaves breeding ground room for microbial contamination. Therefore, make sure that you fully stir your food in your Tupperware container.
The fear of melting the plastic in your Tupperware can lead to people undercooking their food. This can cause food poisoning. It is important that you heat your food up well enough, and the best way to insure that your food is well enough cooked is to invest in a home cooking thermometer. What you will do is stick the thermometer mid-way through your food and check to see if the temperature is above 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If it is then it is safe for consumption. If it is not, you will need to heat it up some more.
Make sure that you use newer models of Tupperware. The older models of Tupperware do not take into consideration the danger of BPA. BPA is very toxic. If you have any Tupperware that is over 10 years old, throw it away. It is not safe to use, even if you don’t put it in the microwave. It is better to spend a little extra money on new Tupperware that has safer chemicals than to use old Tupperware and potentially get cancer or any of the other medical problems that can be caused by BPA.
Another great option is to go online and look up the manufacturer of your Tupperware. Usually, most Tupperware websites have instructions on how to use their containers. They will list which chemicals are in their Tupperware plastics. This can help you to decern if the chemicals in the plastic are safe. It will also state how long their plastic can be in a microwave. This is a sure way to make sure that your Tupperware is microwavable and it will keep you safe.
Can You Microwave Your Tupperware with the Lid On?
Microwaving your Tupperware with the lid on is a great way to prevent messes from occurring in your microwave. Many foods when they are heated up will boil and splash. This can be a pain to clean, so having a lid on makes heating your food up more convenient.
However, microwaving Tupperware with the lid on comes without its own set of problems. You should not microwave your Tupperware with its lid on unless it has a vent on the top. The vent will allow the air from your Tupperware to be able to escape.
If your Tupperware container lid does not have a vent and you put it in the microwave, the air pressure will start to build as you heat up the container. This causes steam to be trapped inside of the container, which will make your food soggy, but it also could cause your container to explode. This could damage your microwave and would most definitely make your food inedible.
Also, having a build-up in pressure could cause physical damage to you. Let’s say you heated up some soup with an air-tight lid on it. As the pressure builds up inside the container, it needs to be released somehow. When you open up the container, the soup, along with all the built-up air pressure, will burst out of the container onto you. If your soup is hot, it can cause burns that could need medical attention. Therefore, be careful when you use a lid on a Tupperware container while heating it up, or avoid doing so altogether.
If you want to avoid messes in your microwave, simply put a paper towel, wet or dry, on top of the container that is holding your food. You could also purchase a microwave splatter cover.