The short answer is: Yes, chemicals can migrate into the food. The
issue is whether they are harmful.
I had heard about this topic several years ago, when it first got some
publicity on TV magazine programs. Being one who always was cautious
of chemicals, I took note, and always heat food in my microwave on
glass/ceramic cookware or plates, covered with a ceramic or glass
In researching this question, I noticed that web sites published by
plastic companies stated there were no known health risks associated
with cooking with cling wrap, although they did warn that cooking in
plastic bowls such as margarine tubs could cause a risk of burns, from
melted, dripping plastic. Health and environmental sites present an
opposing view, and warn about chemicals leaching into our food.
Dioxins and DEHA are contained in most cling wraps, and can indeed
?migrate? into food, particularly greasy and fatty foods, which they
cover. ?Even though DEHA has long been regarded as a possible human
carcinogen, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency removed it from
its list of toxic chemicals in the late 1990s after concluding, based
on a review of the scientific evidence, that "it cannot reasonably be
anticipated to cause cancer, teratogenic effects, immunotoxicity,
neurotoxicity, gene mutations, liver, kidney, reproductive or
developmental toxicity or other serious or irreversible chronic health
?For example, carryout containers from restaurants and margarine tubs
should not be used in the microwave, according to the American
Plastics Council. Inappropriate containers may melt or warp, which can
increase the likelihood of spills and burns. Also, discard containers
that hold prepared microwavable meals after you use them because they
are meant for one-time use.?
From this FDA site:
?Microwave plastic wraps, wax paper, cooking bags, parchment paper,
and white microwave-safe paper towels should be safe to use. Do not
let plastic wrap touch foods during microwaving?
From an About site:
1. Only plastic containers or packaging labeled "Microwave Safe"
should be used in microwave ovens.
2. If plastic wrap is used when microwaving, it should not be allowed
to come into direct contact with food.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, chemical
components can indeed "migrate" from plastics into food at microwaving
temperatures. However, there is scant evidence to date, says the
agency, that such contaminants pose a serious threat to human health
?The FDA considers the amount of a substance expected to migrate into
food and the toxicological concerns about the particular chemical."
The agency has assessed migration levels of substances added to
regulated plastics and has found the levels to be well within the
margin of safety based on information available to the agency. The FDA
will revisit its safety evaluation if new scientific information
A few years ago, seventh grade girl did her own study on toxins
leaching out of plastic wrap, after hearing this was a possibility.
?Claire tested four different plastic wraps and found that ??not just
the carcinogens but also xenoestrogens (substances that act like
estrogen) were migrating into the oil? ? Xenoestrogens are linked to
low sperm counts in men and to breast cancer in women.?
To summarize, yes, harmful chemicals CAN migrate into food cooked in
plastic containers or covered with cling wrap. The level of danger
apparently is unknown/unstudied/unreported. Will these chemicals hurt
or kill you? It seems no one knows for sure, but certainly some people
are more susceptible than others when it comes to chemical exposures.
Why accumulate unnecessary toxins in your body?
My personal feeling is, keep plastic out of the microwave, even though
my grandmother always told me ?You have to eat a peck of dirt before
you die?. Maybe so, but I still try to avoid eating dirt, or
chemicals, when I can avoid it! Use glass, food-safe ceramic, or
Corning Ware instead!
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