Saturday, October 25, 2008

Polycarbonate vs. Polypropylene

I just heard through some mamas that I trust that it's a bad idea to put food storage containers in the dishwasher, as the heat can cause yucky chemicals to leach out. Eww. So, thinks I, I will get some glass storage for our leftovers. Haha! Thwarted the plastics industry. And lo and behold we have a Chefs Catalog just sitting around begging me to have a reason to look through it. So this morning I do.

They have 1 (count 'em -- one) listing for glass storage. And they have "poly" lids. Poly-what lids, I ask? A quick flip through the rest of the catalog shows that they have other storage that is polycarbonate (one of the options for that is stainless-steel containers but they still have the polycarbonate lids), and some cutting boards that are made from polypropylene. So I then asked myself what's the difference between polycarbonate and polypropylene, and are either one of them safe?

A quick read of the Wikipedia pages for both made me sure that polycarbonate was not something I wanted near our food. The polypropylene page wasn't so clear so I kept looking. I found a site called Safe Mama that has a tag for the listings about polypropylene. It looks to me like polypropylene is not a hazardous choice to be near our food. I still think I'm going to opt for the Anchor Hocking sets that have glass lids and leave all the plastic behind. I found that they have 3 sizes on along with a ton of other items like cookie jars and chalkboard jars (how cool!) when I searched the site for "anchor hocking storage." I saw the same 3 pieces sold as a set at my local grocery store so I'm going to compare the price before I buy, but this is what I'm going with.

Oh, one other thing I learned on those Wikipedia pages. Polycarbonate has a plastics identification code of 7 and polypropylene is a 5. Just so you can look at what you have in your cupboard and not wonder what it is. As long as there is a number inside of a triangle made of arrows, you can be sure of what you've got. There's even a Wikipedia page with a chart listing all of the codes and linking back to the pages for individual types of plastics.

Enjoy! And keep your food safe.


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