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Is it safe to reheat food in any type of plastic container or are there only some types of plastic ware that are safe to use?

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I just thought I would let you know, Your question was used verbatim in an ad on Stackoverflow advertising this site. How is that for an upvote! – JD Isaacks Jul 22 '10 at 20:59
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Here's a neat list of plastics & whether they're supposed to be microwave-safe or not:

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There has been quite a lot of discussion regarding the safety aspects of cooking/reheatin foodstuffs in plastic microwave containers. I'm not sure there is, as yet, any conclusive evidence one way of the other.

If you have to reheat food in plastic containers, make sure they're labelled specifically for that purpose. Personally, I'd use glass or ceramic.

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Depends on the plastic, your margin of safety and how often you do it. For most plastic containers, when you reheat food in them some of the chemical components of the plastic will leech into the food. How much, what damage those chemicals can do, and how much is safe for you to absorb is only just beginning to be studied.

But evidence suggests that many of them may be carcinogens. So it's best to avoid it where possible. Doing it once in a while probably won't noticeably shorten your life. But the research is still being done, and its usually better safe than sorry with cases like this.

All that said, I don't sweat it too much if - as can often happen - I don't have much other choice.

Here is a good article published by the American Chemical Society about things that leach out of all sorts of containers - not just plastic:

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The only one I've heard of is BPA, which is an estrogen mimic and (maybe) a carcinogen. But it isn't that bad for all the hype made about it, it clears from the body in a matter of days. – Adam Shiemke Jul 18 '10 at 16:16
BPA is not the only thing that leaches into food out of packaging. Just the most well known, because we have some idea of its dangers: – Daniel Bingham Jul 19 '10 at 2:37
Just for the record, the big issue with BPA is in women who are of child-bearing years. Check out these links: and… Full disclosure: this site is maintained by my mother who is a Nurse Practitioner and my father who is an internal medicine doctor – Chris Thompson Jul 19 '10 at 4:45

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