Why Doctors Are Urging People To Stop Using Plastic Food Wrap
Chemicals leaching into food from plastic
“We know that phthalates damage the walls of arteries by oxidative stress and they may directly damage heart cells,” says the lead researcher, Leonardo Trasande from New York University School of Medicine. “We know these chemicals get into food from plastic wrappings and gloves, and that they are in PVC flooring and cosmetics. We think they may have an effect on cardiovascular health and that children and adolescents should have limited exposure.”
Evidence also suggests that heat makes chemicals in plastic wrap, along with other plastic products, leach into food and drink. In fact, heat appears to increase the rate of chemical transfer by up to 55-fold.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Science even recommends consumers avoid microwaving food in plastic containers, acknowledging that heat increases the likelihood of chemical leaching.
Be careful when heating foods
“Do not allow cling wrap to come into direct contact with food when heating it,” Cancer Research UK warns.
Prior to 2006, plastic wrap in the United States was primarily made with PVC, which is made from vinyl chloride — a known human carcinogen. Now most brands are phthalate-free, and instead use low-density polyethylene (LDPE) or polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC). However, plastic wraps made with LDPE may contain diethylhexyl adipate (DEHA), which is another potential endocrine disruptor that has been linked to breast cancer in women and low sperm counts in men.
Best to avoid plastic wrap all together
But important to note is that manufacturers aren’t required to list the actual chemical makeup of their plastic wrap on the boxes, so it may be best to avoid all plastic wraps in their entirety.
“If you’re heating a plate in the microwave, just cover it with another plate or a chemical-free paper towel,” suggests Andrea Gore, professor of pharmacology at the University of Austin in the U.S., who has studied the effects of chemicals on reproductive function. “I heat food only in glass or ceramic, and although I use cling film in my fridge to cover cooked food, I remove it before reheating that food in the microwave.”