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Reheating Dinner

Posted November 22, 2014 12:00 AM by Chelsey H

I recently bought myself a crock pot which means I have delicious meals and lots of leftovers. Eating leftovers for a week got me thinking about whether or not it was safe to eat out of Tupperware or if I was going to have to wash ANOTHER dish.

Turns out it's a mix bag but I'm going to get my dish soap ready.

Several years ago reports started surfacing about plastics used in kitchenware containing chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA); which, among its many roles, is used to make a type of hard plastic; and certain phthalates, a wide range of chemicals that are used to soften plastic. The media took up the calling and soon many companies such as Nalgene, P&G, and Nike were phasing out products using BPA and phthalates. Image Credit

BPA is found in tap water and air due to products breaking down and releasing the chemical. But the highest exposure comes from our daily diet with molecules of BPA migrating from containers into food.

An extensive test done by Good Housekeeping revealed that "no detectable amounts" of BPA or phthalates wound up in the food after heating in several brands/types of plastic containers - but don't rest easy yet. According to the FDA, adult Americans consume, on average, a cumulative 11 micrograms of BPA a day though diet - so how are we ingesting BPA? Their guess is mostly through liners in canned foods. The insides of food cans are often lined with an epoxy resin that keeps corroding metal away from the food. But BPA in that resin can migrate into the food.

Many studies have been done and we don't have a definitive answer about the risks of BPA yet. There is a lot to be debated, but most studies show that the normal exposure adults get is not enough to cause adverse health effects. However, exposure for fetuses, infants, and small children needs to be monitored much more closely since they are unable to process the chemical as effectively as an adult. Image Credit

This might be a case of better safe than sorry. There are some simple things to do that will limit exposure for you and your family. Check the recycling codes on the bottom of containers: number 7 may contain BPA and 3 may contain phthalates. Generally plastics with numbers 1, 2, and 4 are OK. Also, cool foods or liquids before putting them in plastic containers and avoid putting plastic items in the dishwasher. When purchasing food stick with more fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables and choose soups and broths that come in aseptic boxes. Always pick powdered formula and stick with BPA-free baby bottles/water bottles.

It looks like I'm going to start using glass to store the leftovers and reheat them on a real plate.

What are your thoughts on reheating in plastic Tupperware?

For more information, including a list of products found to have BPA, check the link here.

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#1

Re: Reheating Dinner

11/22/2014 12:51 AM

Why would anybody use tupperware? I use vacuumed bags for freezing, and glass or corelle bowls for the fridge(no more than 3 days)....I don't like to use anything with foods that I can smell.....tupperware and some soft plastic has a taste and smell...

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#2

Re: Reheating Dinner

11/22/2014 5:32 AM

If you've got leftovers, your batch size is too large, Mildred.

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#3

Re: Reheating Dinner

11/22/2014 12:14 PM

No such thing as making too much chili.

I love left over chili... Something about it when the favors merge after 1-2 days that makes it better than the first serving.

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: Reheating Dinner

11/22/2014 10:40 PM

The same is true for lots of casserole-type dishes and stews. They commonly taste bettr on the 2nd or 3rd day.

It's been about a year since we switched from mostly plastic containers to glass ones with plastic lids.

I'll argue with Crabtree! it's much more efficient to make large batches of anything that stores well. If it's good stuff, I have no problem eating the same thing several days in a row, and commonly do!

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#6
In reply to #4

Re: Reheating Dinner

11/22/2014 11:34 PM

Agreed

I would cook on Sunday for most of the week. I used to buy the family style of pork chops.... I'd make a would batch with "shake & bake", baby red potatoes, peas and stove top stuffing. Put them in plates for work for the week, and freeze some. And I'd eat them throughout the week for work, and when I did'nt feel like cooking.

Oh yah, I also put lots of butter on them....

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#8
In reply to #6

Re: Reheating Dinner

11/23/2014 1:12 AM

Indeed! Everything's better with butter!

I've been convinced for many years that margarine and other substitutes are much worse for your health than the real butter. This is especially true for those things that are labelled "Fat-Free".

When I was a kid, we used margarine because the real thing was too expensive... but I'm not at all sure that is true in the long run, health being considered.

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: Reheating Dinner

11/23/2014 2:48 AM

I don't want to be a shill for Land O Lakes, but they have a product that's butter mixed with olive oil. It's spreadable right out of the fridge. I think many people buy margarine for the spreadability.

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#11
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Re: Reheating Dinner

11/23/2014 11:03 AM

And bacon! Everything is better with bacon.

Just don't use non-stick cookware to fry anything fatty. The hot fats break down the plastic non-stick coating and the fluorides get into your food!

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#13
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Re: Reheating Dinner

11/23/2014 12:24 PM

"The hot fats break down the plastic non-stick coating and the fluorides get into your food!"

In fact we use cast iron and stainless steel for most of our frying, but do you have any authoritative proof of this? I've certainly heard it said a number of times, but usually in an effort to sell some other kind of pot or pan.

I generally look at old pots and pans. When I look at aged non-stick pans, the non-stick coating is always scratched, but I do NOT see evidence of chemical decomposition of the coating. Clearly some tiny fragments of the coating get into the food, but Teflon and its cousins are so stable that (I presume) those fragments will pass on through the body without causing harm.

When I was a child, most of our cooking was in aluminum, and those pans were deeply pitted. Obviously the aluminum was dissolving into the food, and I'm sure that's not good. I've discarded all of those!

I have some tri-ply stainless pans purchased in '67 or '68, and after almost 50 years, there is virtually no pitting. Fortunately, they are magnetic, so they work well on our induction cooktop.

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#15
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Re: Reheating Dinner

11/23/2014 1:25 PM

* DuPont does not recommend using cookware coated with Teflon® nonstick for broiling or cooking at temperatures typically used to broil food.

Heating nonstick cookware above 500°F (260°C) can discolor the surface of the cookware or cause it to lose some of its nonstick properties. Since butter, fats and cooking oils start to smoke at 400°F (204°C), overcooked foods would most likely burn to an inedible state before the nonstick coating would be affected. If an empty nonstick cookware pan is accidentally heated above 660°F (348°C), a temperature that far exceeds what food preparation calls for, the nonstick coating may begin to deteriorate.

From:http://www2.dupont.com/Teflon/en_US/products/safety/cookware_safety.html

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#16
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Re: Reheating Dinner

11/23/2014 1:31 PM

The pyrolysis of PTFE is detectable at 200 °C (392 °F), and it evolves several fluorocarbon gases and a sublimate. An animal study conducted in 1955 concluded that it is unlikely that these products would be generated in amounts significant to health at temperatures below 250 °C (482 °F).[29] More recently, however, a study documented birds having been killed by these decomposition products at 202 °C (396 °F), with unconfirmed reports of bird deaths as a result of non-stick cookware heated to as little as 163 °C (325 °F).[30]

While PTFE is stable and nontoxic at lower temperatures, it begins to deteriorate after the temperature of cookware reaches about 260 °C (500 °F), and decomposes above 350 °C (662 °F).[citation needed] These degradation by-products can be lethal to birds, and can cause flu-like symptoms in humans.[citation needed] In May, 2003, the environmental research and advocacy organization Environmental Working Group filed a 14-page brief with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission petitioning for a rule requiring that cookware and heated appliances bearing non-stick coatings carry a label warning of hazards to people and to birds.

Meat is usually fried between 204 and 232 °C (399 and 450 °F), and most oils start to smoke before a temperature of 260 °C (500 °F) is reached, but there are at least two cooking oils (refined safflower oil and avocado oil) that have a higher smoke point than 260 °C (500 °F). Empty cookware can also exceed this temperature when heated.

From Wikipedia:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polytetrafluoroethylene

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#20
In reply to #16

Re: Reheating Dinner

11/23/2014 7:26 PM

Thanks!

You just confirmed my opinion: at ordinary cooking temperatures, there should be no problem for an alert cook. If one forgets and allows a non-stick pan to cook dry on a high heat, there is definitely danger. In fact, if that happens, one should hold their breath as they go turn the burner off and then rapidly go outside before breathing.

In our case, we use induction cooking, and the induction element will automatically shut off long before the dangerous temperature is reached. ...another major advantage of induction cooking.

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#21
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Re: Reheating Dinner

11/23/2014 10:05 PM

I dated a girl a few years ago. She had very nice, high quality cookware. "Magic Chef", all was in like new condition (she never used it). Well, I loved it, and I cooked often, her girls loved my cooking and would stay and eat before going home to their dad, she being a little jealous would so called 'help' me by turning off the burners. Problem was I already shut the burnings off, so what she thought was turning the burners off, actually turned them on, with the Teflon pan on the burner.... Then she went to work, (she was a nurse that worked second shift.

Needless to say, it was toxic, it was all I could do to get outside, can't remember if I notice the burner on and shut the burner off, on my out. But , I had all the doors and windows open.

It was terrible, which lead to other problems, one of which Needless to say, at night I could hear something bumping into the center piece on the table or hear the window curtains move, 2 days later, I found a bat in the house. And I think it was rabit. It actually flew at me with no intention of dodging. Would explain flying into things also.

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#17
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Re: Reheating Dinner

11/23/2014 5:36 PM

Where I work, we make liquid smoke, and Fats and Oils are an acid.

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#22
In reply to #3

Re: Reheating Dinner

11/24/2014 3:19 PM

When the flavours marry? Oh yeah. Nothing like chowing down on a great relationship.

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#5

Re: Reheating Dinner

11/22/2014 11:22 PM

I agree with making lots and lots of good food, to make lots and lots of leftovers. And yes, they seem to taste better one or two or even three days old. It doesn't matter to me if it's chili, stew, or homemade spaghetti sauce.

And you can pack it into several freezer bags to have weeks down the road for a fast no fuss meal or number of meals.

Heck, I even pressure can my chili and sauce, and many other foods. It's perfectly safe if you strictly adhere to the rules!

I won't reheat food in anything plastic.....I'll only use Pyrex glass and ceramic plates and bowls.

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#7

Re: Reheating Dinner

11/23/2014 12:37 AM

depending on which article you read and who's written it, depends on the information you get on the dangers of plastic containers.

Recently, in a local paper in Oman, we were warned about keeping plastic water bottles in our cars, as the water might become tainted as it heats up and cools down from the plastic used in said plastic water bottle.

Can the same be said for Tupperware? Some say yes.. some say no......

As for storing larger quantities of left overs...I also over cook for stews and chilli..... eat my fill and freeze the rest in portion size containers. And yes a stew/curry/chilli tastes WAY better after two or three days... Why is that?

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#10
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Re: Reheating Dinner

11/23/2014 2:52 AM

From what I've read the danger factors are heat and age. When I read that I realized that I was using a Brita pitcher that was almost 20 years old. Oh, well, I'm too old to die young.

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#12

Re: Reheating Dinner

11/23/2014 11:42 AM

I wont comment on the BPA controversy,but leftovers is a different story.

I grew up on leftovers.

If it wasn't eaten for breakfast,it appeared again in the next meal,and the next,and the

next,etc.

I ate leftovers for 18 years,and never did find the original meal.

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#18
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Re: Reheating Dinner

11/23/2014 5:36 PM

Left over pizza for breakfast.... Now I'm hungry.

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#14

Re: Reheating Dinner

11/23/2014 1:20 PM

Try being single and not having leftovers when you cook! There aren't many recipes that can be broken down into individual servings; and many ingredients are best used all at once in a recipe, rather than being stored in the fridge to be used a few days or a week later.

Left-overs can be stored for weeks in those inexpensive vacuum bags. That 'funny refrigerator taste' is due to air sealed in with the food. Pump out the air when storing and the leftovers will taste fresh when re-heated. (The same goes for milk. Air is the enemy of freshness. Squeeze out the air and the milk will stay fresh much longer. True for red wine, also.)

I DO sometimes use plastic tupper-ware style containers. I think the smart way to use them is to heat food slowly, not letting the food get past around 150 F. If the contents aren't excessively heated, it is far less likely any chemicals from the plastic will leach into the food.

The same goes for teflon pans. I never use them at high heat - in fact the last ones I bought had that warning on the packaging.

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#19
In reply to #14

Re: Reheating Dinner

11/23/2014 5:37 PM

Exactly, I always felt if your going to dirty dishes, make it worth it.

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#23

Re: Reheating Dinner

11/24/2014 3:25 PM

I can see from your pix one big problem right away: those foods - lasagna it looks like - contain lots of oils and those oil molecules are structurally little different than the plastics you've stored that food in - and so a bit of it dissolves into the oils that you're eating for tomorrow night's dinner. Heating those foods in Tupperware exacerbates the problem a zillion-fold.

Polyethylasagna, one of my faves for sure.

Try not storing oil-rich foods in your plastic containers. Salads (sans oil-based dressings), etc., anything that, molecularly, does not resemble plastic.

For oil-rich foods, store them in those Pyrex bowls that come with lids. Pyrex or Tupperware, either way you're going to wash them so you might as well eat out of a proper bowl. Ever since I bought myself a set my neighbours have had nothing to talk about behind my back.

Oh yes, throw those Tupperware containers away. They're no good anymore. Those oils are still there, mingling with the plastic. You can tell because, after you wash them, they still have that colour that you can't scrub away.

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#24
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Re: Reheating Dinner

11/24/2014 3:32 PM

that's right, as I mentioned in an earlier post, oils and fats are acidic

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#25
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Re: Reheating Dinner

11/24/2014 3:39 PM

Exactly, as are carbonated beverages and what sorts of bottles do they come in these days? Plastics are great, but they have a place and it's not in food. But, so long as its FDA-approved, we're good, yes?

I'm just waiting for the day the FDA approves salmonella as a legit food preservative. At the rate they're going we should all be safe pretty soon.

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#26

Re: Reheating Dinner

11/26/2014 8:29 AM

after posting, two nights ago I got hungry for spaghetti, I still eating it, I'll give you a status report after thanksgiving..... the spaghetti should be gone, unlike the turkey.

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