Before placing any item in the microwave, you need to confirm that it is heat friendly. The last thing you want is for your food container to melt or shatter inside the microwave. However, with different companies using Styrofoam to pack some of the edible people buy on the go, one may wonder if it is safe to microwave the food in the containers. Recent warnings on food-grade material use have many people on alert.
It is even more frightening when there have been news claiming that plastic can cause cancer. This is misleading since plastic on its own does not release cancer-causing toxins, dioxins. These are formed only when the plastic is burnt. Consequently, it means that the plastic will not be a problem as long as you do not burn your food in the microwave. With such a background, the big question still remains, is it safe to microwave Styrofoam? Well, the answer is dependent on a lot of things. Read on to decide if this is something you can opt for.
Most homesteads tend to have left-overs that they store in the fridge for later use. This is a great way to avoid wastage. However, reheating can be a challenge is you do not know how to go about it.
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Fortunately, the use of microwaves has become a common phenomenon over the years. Many household rely on this appliance when they need to heat something quickly, left-overs included. However, to properly use the microwave, learn which containers to use to avoid accidents. Not every container goes into the microwave because of the high heat in the appliance. Microwave-safe plastics, microwave-safe Styrofoam, glass, and stainless steel are among the recommended items when reheating food in the microwave.
However, if you are not using the microwave, consider using an ordinary saucepan to reheat your food. The bottom line is that always use a material that will not burn your food, or leach chemicals into it. The last thing you want is to expose yourself to harmful carcinogenic elements that can cause more damage than good.
What is Styrofoam?
First things first, Styrofoam is a product that has been used in place of plastic for different things. It is a trademark product of Dow Chemical. It is a multi-use polystyrene foam popularly used in packaging products in different industries, including food. It is a petroleum-based product that is made from styrene and benzene. It is highly preferred for packaging because of the following traits:
- Lightweight in nature because it is composed of 95% air
- It has an R-value of about R-5 per inch meaning that it is a great insulator
- Cannot sink because of the high air composition
- Maintains its shape over time
The above properties make it possible for the Styrofoam to be a favorite choice in any packaging industry. It is one of the best solutions for most industries, considering that the lightweight nature makes it easy to move products safely. What’s more, they are also cheap and affordable. Most of them are disposable, which means that food stores do not have to worry about washing plates. It is also convenient for takeaways. Always purchase the correct Styrofoam containers (View on Amazon).
What about Usage in the Microwave
Usually, Styrofoam can withstand both cold and hot temperatures. In fact, Polystyrene foam and Styrofoam containers are best preferred for these kinds of content because they do not change the container’s shape. However, are they safe to put in the microwave? This is an important question, especially if you want to reheat your takeout. Before deciding to microwave your food, you need to consider the different types of Styrofoam available in the market.
This is the type of Styrofoam whose ability to maintain original foam depends on the temperatures it is exposed to. Under normal room temperatures, it stays stable. However, on exposure to high temperatures, this type of Styrofoam melts, leaching the chemicals into the foods that are being heated. When the chemicals are taken at high levels, they can potentially be carcinogenic and a threat to your reproductive health. Consequently, avoid using traditional Styrofoam materials in high temperatures. Such Styrofoam materials are based used to pack non-food items where they are not likely to be exposed to heat at any point.
While traditional Styrofoam is a no-go zone, there are heat safe Styrofoam that one can use in the microwave. These have been made specifically to withstand high temperatures, meaning that they will not easily disintegrate and cause harm. This alternative material is created specially to allow for use in high heat environments. The Styrofoam has lowered levels of harmful components, not to mention that it has been made to withstand high temperatures meaning that it can remain stable under high-heat environments.
One can easily tell which type of Styrofoam they are using by checking the labels. It must be indicated to be microwave-safe, just like most plastics are. Going back to whether Styrofoam can be used in the microwave, yes, it can. However, it must be indicated to be microwave-safe before exposing it to microwave heat. Taking extra caution is also advised. Make sure that you check the container for any visible damage that could be caused by reheating. In case there are there, dispose of both the container and food to be sure.
Fortunately, it is easy to tell which Styrofoam is safe for use. The government has relevant agencies in place to regulate the safety of food-grade products. Users should be vigilant and read the labels to ensure that they are using containers that has been approved. All plastic and Styrofoam containers that have been approved will have a specific mark of quality that indicates their approval for use in microwaves.
Safe Food Reheating
It is impossible not to reheat your food. Since this is an unavoidable thing, knowing how to do it safely is advised. Apart from buying the correct microwave, it would be best if you got the right containers for your food. Just because you had leftovers in the fridge, or bought takeout that is now cold, does not mean that you have to dispose of them. There are several safe ways through which you can reheat your food.
- Transfer the food to a microwave-safe plate. Cover it with a damp kitchen towel to prevent spluttering, and reheat your food
- Using an oven-safe container, place the food in the container and cover with foil. Place the container in an oven and reheat your food.
- Re-heat food only once
- Only consume reheated food that is no higher than 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Always let reheated fluids to cool before consuming them.
- Reheat soups, chilies and stews on a stovetop using a saucepan.
Reheating food is one of the ways to save and avoid wastages. If you cannot consume all your food in one seating, always store it away in the fridge and reheat when you need it. You can always prep food early and package small amounts that can be eaten in one serving. Store the already cooked food in the fridge and microwave every time you need to eat. This works for busy individuals who may not always have the time to make fresh dishes every time they need to eat.
While there is nothing wrong with pre-heating food, make sure you observe the right safety measures. Use the correct method to reheat, as well as the right type of containers. Invest in the right Styrofoam containers if you are in the food business industry. The lightweight Styrofoam containers will not only hold food at the right temperature for long, but they will also maintain their shape for long. Never compromise on quality as this translates to safety too.