We can imagine our kitchens without a lot of things, but plastic isn't one of them. In the half century since it created a food storage revolution, this material has come to play an indispensible role in nearly every meal.
In recent years, however, plastic's image as a shining symbol of technological progress has been tarnished by reports suggesting that it may be less than safe, especially in the kitchen. At issue are the chemicals plastics are made from and whether or not these building blocks are able to leach into our food. The answer to that question starts with understanding the different kinds of plastic available today. Here's a list by recycling code number:
To sum up: types 1, 2, 4, and 5 are generally safe to use. Types 3 and 6 should be avoided. And Type 7 is a definite "it depends."
Of course, there are certain circumstances under which no plastic is safe to use. Heat, harsh detergents, and old age all promote the degradation of plastics and the leaching of compounds they contain. Here are our rules for using plastics safely in the kitchen: