Can You And Ought to You Microwave Styrofoam? – Healthline
Microwaves have been around for decades and are known for making kitchen chores – namely, heating food – a lot easier than it was in the past.
For health reasons, you may be wondering what types of containers are best to microwave your food and beverages.
This article will check if you can use styrofoam in the microwave if it is safe and what precautions you can take.
Styrofoam is a term protected by The Dow Chemical Company. It refers to a type of polystyrene foam commonly used in the construction industry (1).
However, in some countries, such as the United States and Canada, the term is often mistakenly used to refer to a type of expanded polystyrene foam that is injected into molds to make disposable take-out containers, plates, coffee cups, and packaging peanuts (2, 3).
These containers are popular because they are cheap and work as a good insulator, which means they keep food and drinks warm.
Although Styrofoam containers have been popular in the past, environmental and potential health concerns have slowly banned them in several cities in the United States, such as San Francisco and Seattle (4).
From an environmental point of view, the containers do not decompose easily and are difficult to recycle. Animals can also mistake it for food and eat it (3, 5, 6).
From a health perspective, they contain a compound called styrene, which raises some concerns as it has been linked to cancer in both animal and human studies (7).
Styrofoam is mistakenly used to refer to styrofoam foam containers that are commonly used for serving hot drinks and food.
There are some concerns about microwaveable polystyrene foam containers.
One main reason is that they contain a compound called styrene, which studies in humans and animals have linked to cancer (7, 8, 9).
In addition, when food or beverages are microwaveable in polystyrene or plastic containers, substances used in their manufacture can get into the food. This is especially true of fatty foods like meat and cheese (10).
It is important to note, however, that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates plastic and styrofoam containers, cups, and plates and tests their safety and use in microwave ovens (11).
This means that all polystyrene or plastic products with the microwaveable label have been tested for safety in the microwave.
On the other hand, avoid microwave food in styrofoam containers that are not labeled as microwaveable, as their safety is not guaranteed. This precaution does not apply to microwaves or to any other heating method.
You can microwaveable food or drinks in styrofoam containers marked as microwaveable. Conversely, avoid putting Styrofoam containers without microwaveable labels in the microwave.
If you have concerns about heating food in a Styrofoam container, here are some tips to help you heat up food safely in the microwave:
Use a microwave-safe container. If you are using a styrofoam container, check that it has a microwaveable label on it.Transfer food to ceramic or glass before microwave. Alternatively, you can transfer the food to a ceramic, glass or Pyrex container before heating.Use the stove or an oven. Another way to avoid potential risks is to put the food in a saucepan or pan to heat it on the stove, or in a baking sheet to heat it in the oven.Check for scratches or cracks. Polystyrene and plastic containers that are old or have scratches or cracks should be discarded as they can leach out potentially harmful chemicals. Vent the container before heating it. This prevents pressure from building up and preventing food from exploding in the container. Carefully remove the container. After heating, remove the container with gloves or gloves to avoid burns to your hands.Summary
The tips above can help you microwave or reheat your food safely. When using the microwave, always use containers that are marked as safe for this use.
Avoid using microwave polystyrene containers without a microwave-safe label, as their safety cannot be guaranteed.
That’s because polystyrene containers contain a compound called styrene, which has been linked to cancer.
However, containers with a microwaveable label have been tested and should not pose any styrene-related risks.
If you are concerned, put your food in a microwave-safe ceramic, glass, or pyrex container before heating.