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There are a variety of different storage containers for food. Some people choose to avoid plastic food containers, instead choosing glass containers to hold food products in the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. As you explore your options for home food storage, consider the benefits and risks of various materials to determine what you wish to use to keep food fresh. You could decide that glass would be an improvement over plastic storage containers.
The FDA does not require bottled water manufacturers to provide an expiration date for their products, but many of these manufacturers have voluntarily added expiration dates to inform consumers about recommended use periods for optimal quality of the bottled water. Consumers should generally avoid using prepackaged foods that have expired because these products may not be safe to consume. Expired foods may not have the same nutrient content as stated on food labels.
Bisphenol A is a chemical present in some types of plastic. It's possible that BPA present in plastic and some metal food containers may transfer to the foods and beverages stored in the containers. Health experts are researching possible adverse health effects from BPA, including brain issues, fetal development problems, and undesired symptoms in children. Consumers wishing to limit exposure to BPA can select food products in BPA-free containers. Using BPA-free food storage containers in the home is another way to limit BPA exposure.
Food manufacturers have designed some packaging for specific use in the microwave. These containers must have a special marking or designation that indicates "microwave safe" design. Food containers that do not indicate microwave safety may not be safe to use in the microwave due to the potential for melting and warping from heat. If melting occurs, chemicals in the plastic could transfer to foods.
Storing food in plastic containers is generally safe for both refrigeration and freezing. Experts recommend that consumers should always wrap foods tightly or place food into storage containers that match the amount of food. For example, filling a container halfway with food and freezing may lead to freezer burn due to excess unused space in the container. Never place food into plastic containers or bags that are not designed for food storage due to the potential for chemicals transferring into the food.
Recycling helps prevent glass and plastic food containers from reaching landfills. Most communities offer curbside pickup for recyclables to make it easy for consumers to recycle. Check the codes on the bottoms of plastic containers to determine whether the items are recyclable. Some plastics are always recyclable, whereas other types of plastics may or may not be recyclable in your community. Check with your local municipality regarding the types of plastics you can recycle.
One storage strategy involves the use of glass containers in the kitchen. Glass does not have the potential for chemicals transferring into food, making it an optimal food storage option. You can also reuse glass containers for an inexpensive food storage method. When you are ready to recycle glass containers, this process is often more environmentally friendly due to fewer chemicals produced during recycling.