There has been a lot of debate over the years about which brands are best for Tupperware in terms of durability, quality, and of course how safe they are for the microwave.
Originating in 1951, Earl Tupper teamed up with Brownie Wise to sell man-made plastic containers that can be stacked in the refrigerator to Americans who were enjoying the mobile option of food for the first time.
Women were able to pack their signature dishes or bakes up and share them with their new neighbors. The novelty of this soon spread to party planners, who profited from being more mobile for the first time.
Thanks to post-war American parties, more people enjoyed being able to transport food and contribute to big spreads of potlucks.
Tupperware has stayed true to its roots, for the most part, has rolled with the punches of modern times by developing its range of freezer and microwave-safe containers.
There has been some level of debate in the past about the safety of Tupperware. Whether the plastics involved are safe for children, or even suitable for food storage, has often been a concern for parents.
During the post-war boom in plastic and synthetic material production, a lot of products became mass-produced in America.
While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, questions were raised about trace amounts of harmful chemicals in Tupperware containers. This is largely due to the mass production within factories that there are other materials present.
Following several trials and tribulations, the plastic containers are now required to show a symbol on them somewhere that says how safe for food it is, as well as if you can microwave it.
Tupperware is now extremely widely used within meal preparation and food storage. People who are more concerned about food waste and those who enjoy prepping some meals ahead of time are alike in their appreciation of the versatile range of containers.
The organization that is now achievable is impressive. Most kitchens around the modern world will have a drawer full of mismatched lids and plastic containers.
The future of Tupperware is unclear. More people are avoiding plastic use in general and opting for more sustainable materials to store their food in. These include stainless-steel bento boxes and even ones made of glass or bamboo.
The move to more conscious consumers is having its toll on the modern world because we are wanting to be savvier and save things from being mass-produced.
Factories are one of the largest contributors of harmful greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. For this reason, more people are trying to avoid things that are mass-produced and make more conscious choices about their purchases.
Another common issue in regard to Tupperware safety is long-term use. Over time, the plastics can become worn and either stain or crack. This is another reason why more people are avoiding plastic where possible and choosing more natural materials.
Why Wouldn’t Tupperware Be Safe?
There are some concerns about the safety of microwaving Tupperware. It is said that some plastics can release harmful chemicals when heated, which is why companies are now required to include symbols that indicate how safe they are.
Dioxins are chemicals that can enter the food that you are reheating, through being released from the plastic itself. Not all plastics are manufactured in the same way, which is why the concerns are often not addressed.
There are so many plastics in circulation nowadays that it can be difficult to determine whether health concerns are valid or not.
Generally, plastics are unlikely to release dioxins when microwaved because of the low amount of heat used and a short burst of time.
If you are still worried about the safety of your Tupperware and whether it is good to reheat food in the microwave, you can look on the bottom of many plastic containers and see a symbol that will indicate how appropriate it is for heating.
This is usually determined by the type of plastic that it is made from, as well as what other synthetics are in the material. Some common symbols consist of letters and numbers, and the most prominent ones have been listed below.
- Number 5, “polypropylene” “PP”, or horizontal wavy lines- all of these are indicators that it is perfectly safe for microwaving and can be heated without worry.
- CPET- this is a material that has been crystallized, so will never be clear in appearance. If a container has this written on it, then it is safe for the microwave.
- APET(E)- deli containers, water bottles, or supermarket containers will often have this on. This is not safe to microwave and is usually used to store cold food that doesn’t need reheating.
- Harvest Fiber- these containers are not recommended for the microwave because they are naturally compostable so won’t be as sturdy.
- Paper- do not reheat paper containers because they are likely to fall apart in the microwave, not to mention the fact that they are often held together with glue that can leak into your food and be toxic if ingested.
Additionally, you can also look out for materials that are BPA-Free because they will contain less harmful substances.
Types Of Food
Another concern about the overall safety of Tupperware includes the role of too much use, time heated for, and how safe it is to reheat different kinds of food.
Leftovers need to be reheated to higher temperatures in order to kill off any bacteria that could be lingering within.
It is also worth remembering that oily and fatty foods like cheese will have higher melting points and the temperature that they need to get to risks compromising the quality of plastic.
If you want to reheat a cheese-based meal, it’s a good idea to transfer it to a microwave-safe dish or bowl and then heat it.
In terms of food safety, something that is often overlooked is the fact that plastic melts under high amounts of heat. That is why you are not supposed to use Tupperware for cooking and food preparation.
Ceramic is often the material of choice that is recommended for cooking, whereas plastic Tupperware is better for storing the leftovers once they have cooled to room temperature.
When very hot, the plastic can be flimsy and even get thinner in certain areas. This makes it a lot less durable and food-safe in the long run. Not to mention the fact that many plastics are stained very easily, especially lower quality cheap ones.
When you are cooking with meat or fish, this can be particularly problematic and need to thoroughly wash your containers with very hot soapy water.
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve answered some commonly asked questions below to hopefully help give you the tips you’re looking for.
How Long Will My Tupperware Last?
When kept clean and in good condition, Tupperware can last anywhere from five to twenty years. Most people tend to lose their containers or lids between moving houses before having to throw them out.
If your Tupperware is chipped, cut, or has warped edges, then it may not have the same properties as its original selling points, which is why you might need to throw it away at that point.
Is It Hygienic To Microwave Food In Plastic Containers?
Yes, as long as your microwave is cleaned regularly, and you are using vented containers or the lid slightly ajar. You can even reheat food with the lid off, the only difference is that the food is more likely to dry out.
As long as you are using a food-safe grade of plastic, it is completely safe and hygienic. Make sure that your Tupperware is microwave safe first.
The more significant safety concern is surrounding the breeding ground for bacteria that microwaves can be.
The intense heatwaves can create sporadic patterns within your food, which is why it’s important to stir your food regularly when reheating, and ensure that the heat has spread evenly.
How Do I Know That My Tupperware Is Safe For The Freezer?
The same way that we check to see if it is microwave safe. The basic precipice is that if your plastic container has a symbol that says it can withstand higher heat, then it can handle the cold just as well.
It is usually fine under both sides of the spectrum because the plastic itself will be made from a sturdier compound.
The material is usually developed for both kinds of temperatures, but if you are especially concerned, then there are specific Tupperware editions you can browse that are designed for freezer use.
Is Plastic More Durable Than Bamboo?
Yes, it can be because bamboo is more lightweight and easier to drop and break when on the go than plastic.
However, if you are using food storage containers in the refrigerator, it is not recommended to use bamboo containers because wood is more absorbent, and it can still contain some levels of bacteria even after washing.
While bamboo is the more environmentally friendly, and natural option, plastic offers more versatility when it comes to food storage. Bamboo tends to be most suitable for storing vegetables, fruit, or lunch on the go.
Likewise, you should avoid using bamboo containers to reheat leftovers because there will be small amounts of glue that will become irritated under high levels of heat and make your food unsafe.
Overall, Tupperware is a highly versatile option within the plastic container world that offers great solutions for affordable food storage.
Leftovers can be reheated at ease because of the simple set of symbols that highlights how durable the materials are, as well as what the containers are made from.
Thanks to years of factory-generated high demand, more people are increasingly concerned about the state of the environment and the future of our planet.
That is why more people are choosing to use more natural materials with their food containers, although they are far less versatile than plastic, which remains the country’s favorite and most widely used.
The modern world is evolving, and we are becoming more aware as consumers of what goes into the food we eat and other materials that we use.
Less toxic chemicals are used in the production of modern Tupperware, and more people are researching the extent to which microwaving plastic can be harmful.
The consensus is that as long as you reheat your leftovers to high temperatures, regularly stir them to distribute heat, do not use plastic containers that are cracked or warped in any way, and clean your microwave regularly, then there is very little need to worry about how safe Tupperware is.
The number 5, PLP or wavy lines are symbols that your containers are perfectly safe for microwaving and that there is nothing to worry about.
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