Be Careful When Heating Up Thanksgiving Leftovers

Thanksgiving may be over, but you may not be able to tell by looking in your refrigerator. Even if the turkey, stuffing and cranberries were exceptionally prepared there’s usually enough to last long after the holiday meal is over. And, if you’re anything like me you probably don’t think twice about sticking those leftovers in the microwave and reheating them. If you do—-beware. Food experts say when heating up food in plastic, you might be consuming chemicals you never knew existed.

Studies have shown that in some plastics, a chemical called DEHA can seep into your food when exposed to excessive heat. What’s more, high levels have been shown to cause cancer in some lab animals. That’s why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued guidelines on how to reheat food safely in the microwave. Most people don’t know that the guidelines exist, but they do, and they are worth reading over to help keep you and your family members safe.

The FDA’s first tip: Study the precautions printed on microwaveable packages. For example, many frozen foods say — in very small print — “re-reheating of tray is not recommended.”

Researchers say many plastic plates are “not intended for microwave use” and foam plates, well, they’re even worse. Most styrofoam plates actually have a warning on the package saying the plate “may melt and cause injury.”

Your best bet (and FDA tip No. 2): use glass or microwave-safe plates for cooking or reheating food. If you buy plastic bowls or plates, look for the words “microwave safe” on the label.

As for covering your food (like that plate of leftover turkey) with plastic wrap? The FDA suggested you leave some room between the wrap and your meal. Specifically, they recommend leaving at least 1 or 2 inches between the plastic wrap and the food. Food experts say if you place the plastic wrap directly on the food you’re absorbing the chemicals that come out of it when you heat it in the microwave.

The FDA does note that there is no evidence yet that DEHA causes problems in humans, and they say following the tips they offer should keep you safe. But, if you think about it, how many people know those precautions and guidelines even exist? Did you?

Related Articles:

Thanksgiving Feasts And Your Health-Adding It All Up

Thanksgiving Feasts And Your Health: Adding It All Up—Part 2

Tips On Protecting Your Garbage Disposal From Thanksgiving Disasters

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.