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Don’t put plastic containers in microwave or dishwasher, new research says

Do you regularly heat up leftovers in plastic food-storage containers? Do you put plastic reusable water bottles in the dishwasher when they need a deep clean? A new study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics highlights food safety mistakes that many people may be making, without understanding the consequences. The study outlines an increasing amount of evidence that points to the dangers of food packaging materials, especially plastic.

The study advises people against microwaving food in plastic containers or placing plastic containers in the dishwasher, as these habits can cause the plastic material to release harmful chemicals. BPA serves as a hardening ingredient in plastic, and it has been associated with adverse health effects, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. BPA exposure or ingestion can also cause harm to fertility, the immune system, and even body fat percentage, according to the AAP. Plastic materials that have recycling codes 3, 6, and 7 — corresponding to phthalates, styrene, and bisphenols, respectively — should also be avoided. The AAP reminds parents that the consequences of exposure to dangerous chemicals may be particularly harmful for children, as their bodies are still in the process of developing.

“This report outlines not only safe and essential steps that the healthcare community can communicate to parents and families but also some steps that the FDA can take, and frankly manufacturers can take, to limit the exposures of greatest concern,” said Leonardo Trasande, lead author and member of the AAP Council on Environmental Health, the Tech Times reports.

The report goes on to remind people that many food additives, such as food colorings and preservatives, which are “generally recognized as safe” may actually be anything but. The consumption of ingredients containing indirect additives, such as dyes and glue, have been associated with health issues such as autism and obesity, as well as limited muscle mass and bone strength. Contamination is also a food safety concern that people can guard against by always washing their hands when handling food, and always rinsing produce thoroughly before preparation.

The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing AAP’s paper, according to a USA Today report. FDA Press officer Megan McSeveney told USA Today there is “reasonable scientific certainty” additives are not harmful when used as directed.

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