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Say no to Cooking in Plastic

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I recently read an article about how poaching sous-vide is the latest rage as it keeps product moist and would like to alert everyone to the VERY REAL effects of cooking in plastic. You may know that plastic sluffs off (for lack of a more scientific term,HA!) more rapidly as it heats. What you may not know is that plastic acts as both a hormone imitator and inhibitor! And has been linked to everything from undropped testicles to learning disabilities. As professional cooks, we are stewards for the public. We strive to educate the layman on what is "good". So think deeply about ALL the aspects of "good".
Please read "Our Stolen Future" by Theo Colborn. This group of scientists are being considered for a Nobel Prize for this work. I had the luck to work with Theo's daughter when the book first came out and you just wouldn't believe all that went on! You might remember when it hit the news ... and dissappeared. Can you say "...big money in Washington..."?
post #2 of 21
Here's a common sense, non-alarmist article on the subject of heating food in plastic:

http://www.jhsph.edu/PublicHealthNew..._plastics.html


...more studies need to be done to define what levels are of concern in the body and what other factors are important.
"Our lives are not in the lap of the gods, but in the lap of our cooks." -Lin Yutang
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"Our lives are not in the lap of the gods, but in the lap of our cooks." -Lin Yutang
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post #3 of 21
Hey oh

As I already posted. Plastic is more than one animal. In some forms it is very stable, to the point even that 100 000 years from now when its dug up it will look much the same as the day it was pitched in the garbage.

I had a very extencive talk a few years back with a chemist. He was on the team the invented plastic cling wraps. I talked to him only by chance and a new secretary that really didn't know how to answer my question. You see, in cooking school, my chef used cling wrap on things like scalloped potatoes and poached fish and chicken breast, to cook them. The only thing is that I was ill the week he introduced this to the class, and I did not know if it was an application specific product he was using. So, I did the only illogical thing, and phoned the maufacturer. Who then pased me to sales. Who then passed me to the head of the division. Who happened to be the chemist.

I explained who I was, and what I learned in school, and what product it would have been. He was quiet, and then he said "oh good god no". We then had a very good talk about the compounds that make plastics, and how clingwrap was different from general plastic containers. Essentially, it is an extream end of plastics. It contains a large quantity of plasticiser inorder for it to be what it is. These chemicals are fairly dangerouse, however, under normal use, not a health hazzard. The danger occurs when it is heated, because this liberates the chemicals from the plastic. Degree of liberation is as much a function of heat as it is of time. Time is actually more important. Yes, a three minute blast in a nuker will liberate a small quantity of these compounds, cooking for hours will virtually deplete the plastics of these compounds rendering the food so cooked as toxic. Long term toxic.

His advice, don't use it for anything hot, prechill hot dishes before wrapping, and to not purchase heat sealed plastic wrapped food from stores. This advise on plastics and food is, as I said, from one of the chemists that had a hand in its invention.
Space...the final frontier. These are the voyages of KeeperOfTheGood. His lifetime mission: to explore strange new worlds of flavour, to seek out new life and and ways of cooking it- to boldly grill where no man has grilled before.
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Space...the final frontier. These are the voyages of KeeperOfTheGood. His lifetime mission: to explore strange new worlds of flavour, to seek out new life and and ways of cooking it- to boldly grill where no man has grilled before.
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post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 
ALthough it sounds as is "a small amount" is tolerable, these compounds are not excreated as waste but accumulate in our "fats". For women this is VERY VERY important as breast milk is a high-fat product ... hense the name of the book "Our Stolen Future"!
post #5 of 21
I have worked with a Chef who used the sous - vide methd. We kryovac or vacume packed the meat after searing and marinating the meat. For order, we placed it in a bain de marie set at 57 C and for pick up, placed the meat in a pan and in the oven. Now, we didn't use cling wrap or little plastic baggies, we used heavy duty vacume pack bags. I don't know if the plastic molecules went into the food and my guess is that they did but not to a toxic level.
Anyways, I like the method because the meat did have more flavour and was quit juicy. Maybe the same method can be used but with a different vehicle. Like banana leaves or intestines. Any ideas?
You see, the method works and as Chefs we have the creativity to make it healthy and taste good.
Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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post #6 of 21
I've never dropped mine.

Mark
Salad is the kind of food that real food eats.
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Salad is the kind of food that real food eats.
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post #7 of 21
...oh, I've dropped a few. :blush:

MarkV = :roll:
"Our lives are not in the lap of the gods, but in the lap of our cooks." -Lin Yutang
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"Our lives are not in the lap of the gods, but in the lap of our cooks." -Lin Yutang
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post #8 of 21

Sous Vide connection?

Can some one tie this and the sous vide issue togeather? Is this a concern? If a menu says sous vide how do we know what plastic is being used?
Chef Bob


"Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what's for lunch?" ~ Orsen Wells (1915-1985)
http://www.frappr.com/cheftalkcafe
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Chef Bob


"Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what's for lunch?" ~ Orsen Wells (1915-1985)
http://www.frappr.com/cheftalkcafe
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post #9 of 21
This whole vacume packing and cooking in plastic craze sounds like shear lazyness to me.

I cook my fresh food to order, in pots and pans.

Guess this 40 y/o is already old school......
post #10 of 21
I don't know about others, but I don't cook stuff sous-vide because I'm lazy, rather when I want a certain product that traditional cooking methods can't achieve. At the restaurant I'd often be slicing and cutting ingredients to order, plus cooking them - hardly the quick, 'lazy' way. Yet we also used sous-vide cooking techniques.
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
...just returned from a journey through France (another topic altoghter is that we need to toss out the idea that our gourmand existance in America is somehow less than that in France. Oh, how life in Europe has changed in 20 years!)...
But I would like to re-energize this converstion by asking if anyone followed through with the "natural" casing thought. I have had a few foods prepared in Banana leaves and they were incredibly moist. But I guess this couldn't translate to the same kind of volume as it would inevitably leak into the poaching liquid. I wonder about the celluose or cornstarch packaging products they have now. Anyone know much about them?
And to clarify (maybe,ha!) the issue with plastic is not that it is "toxic" but that it ACCUMULATES and passes on to our children who then have growth problems.
post #12 of 21
so let me get this straight cuz im just a knuckles dragging on the ground kind of chef!!!! the plastics are ok as long as you do not heat the food up in them??? because after reading this i started going back thru the last 17 years and wow i mean wow i have heated alot of stuff up in plastic wrap and on the ocasion that i could only find a job in a corprtate resturant(applebees,tgi fridays etc) they cook everything in plastic i mean everything you could go days with out using a pot or a skillet!!!!! i guess the reason im asking is that i am now helping my cousine get her coffee house off the ground at this time we have pastires and panninnis etc, but this winter i want to offer soup and i dont have a real kitchen here to make them so i was going to go with syscos pre made soups that are in the boil bags, now if i thaw the soups and dump them in to a pot and heat them that way is it safe or should i just find a different way of doing the soups????
post #13 of 21
If this is not a toxic problem and a storage problem that will effect in the future, how do you explain KOTG getting sick from the use of plastic?
BTW I put this up there with over 90 percent of all food borne illness occurs in the home, I'm also going to believe that most of the residule effects of this is going to be traced back to the home use, not commercial.
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 
Hey, I'm no scientist; I can't tell you how much by which method. And I don't think you can get reliable information on the internet because I have, first hand, seen how money and lobbying works to get this type of information out of the channels to the populace (my god, there were contracts on Cleos life! Her daughter in no-wheres-ville had to hire a body guard for her daughter to go to school!). But it is well documented that heating accelerates the "sluffing". Of any substance for that matter. The general rule is the harder the plastic, the less it "sluffs". If you have to microwave, can you use ceramic? Or better yet, check out those new corn starch disposables. So yeah, in theory, every use of plastic is contributing but in this day and age some things are unavoidable. But doen't that mean you "DO WHAT YOU CAN"?
Perhaps I'm just fooling myself, but I like to think that although we, as cooks, spend 90+percent of our time just preparing food, underneath the workhorse is an human with a greater vision than a paycheck. We are the sheperds! Sure, I can possibly agree that most of this is going on at home ... but we are the "laymans" role model, the teachers; we set the fashions, guide them to the next taste sensation. Why not do it the best way we can?
post #15 of 21
Rose,
My question was general. But I have to respectfully dissagree that we are the shepards, this is really in the hands of the few large corperations and their marketing.
I was more concerned with the use of wrap. It goes on basically everything in the kitchen. Even hot foods. I do know for a fact that if very hot liquid is wrapped in plastic with holes to breath, then frozen,the wrap has a completely different properties.
I'm not sure there is a whole lot of microwaving in plastic, in commercial kitchens, it's been years since I been there or eaten in chains or franchises. I would venture to say this is happening more at home with a lot of marketing directed to freezer to microwave.
If there is no real documentation it may have to go on the board to be careful when using bleach on floors with mats. This may give off some poisinous toxins.
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #16 of 21
Ok... let's clear this up. It is well known and scientifically documented that plastics contamination is detremental to the human body. It is not fiction. It is not propoganda. It is fact. A fact proven by scientists and Phd medical doctors.

Not to start a completely different tangent, that plastics don't even have to be heated to affect food which has been shown with for example, soda in 2-liter bottles which have already been proven to affect the developing bodies of children.

This is not a case of, "don't believe everything you read". It is a case of "you have been warned, make your decisions at your own risk".

Just because something is on the shelf doesn't mean it's safe. And just because people have been doing it for years doesn't mean there are not long term effects which may appear with certain people.

Use common sense:
The point is that if you care about your health and the health of your loved ones, this is easily preventable by using glass microwave safe containers to heat your food in. It's not hard to do. This way you simply avoid the potential problem alltogether and it isn't an issue.

Unless of course you're going to have each and every different type of plastic container you use tested by a lab so that you know the composition of the plastic and the resulting effects of heating that plastic. We've been doing it for years in our own home - microwaving in glass containers only. In the end, it is up to each individual to make an educated and informed decision for themselves.
post #17 of 21
OK,
So far I've asked if someone knew why KOTH got sick. So far I've been told It's my job to protect the puplic and I have no common sense.
Direct me to the research, that's all. I think I've been around long enough to make my own descision. I'm just trying to educate myself. If I stop doing or using everything I hear teased on TV news and such I'd be sitting in a wood chair in a rock cave. I can come up with a half a dozen things right off the top of my head that this industry is doing that will harm people. I don't have this plastic problem at work but there are some issues at home. Well actually we do serve plastic bottles of soda. Don't get me wromg, health issues are of importance in this family, two of the three of us have survived cancer from known sources.
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #18 of 21
Summary of the eRumor:
There are a several versions of this eRumor.

The first to appear on the Internet was a message that says a Dr. Edward Fujimoto from the Castle Hospital (no location mentioned) appeared on television and said plastic containers should not be used for heating foods in a microwave oven.
This is especially true if the foods contain fat.
The message says the combination of fats and plastics will release dioxins into the food and into the cells of the body with a risk of cancer.
He recommended using glass, Corning Ware, or ceramic containers instead in order to avoid the dioxin. Prepared foods such as TV dinners should be taken out of plastic containers before heating.

The second version tells the story of a seventh-grade student who decided to do some experiments with microwave radiation on food wrapped in plastic.
She is said to have enlisted the help of the National Center for "Toxicological" Research in Arkansas.
She allegedly found that not only are there carcinogens migrating from the plastic into food during microwaving, but other substances as well.
This eRumor also lists an article about Dr. Edward Fujimoto saying that he appeared on a TV station in Huntsville, Alabama.

Another version claims all this was in newsletters from Johns Hopkins University and Walter Reed Army Medical center.



The Truth:
TruthOrFiction.com has not been able to find any research that supports the fear that food can become contaminated with dioxins either from plastic wrap or plastic in microwave ovens.

It's an understandable concern because dioxins are among the most poisonous chemical group known and steps have been taken by many world governments to reduce the amounts of dioxins in the environment.

Dr. Edward Fujimoto is real and is the Manager of the Wellness and Lifestyle Medicine Department at Castle Medical Center in Hawaii. (not Alabama). Part of this eRumor is the result of an interview he did on KHON-TV channel 2 in Hawaii on January 23, 2002.

TruthOrFiction.com contacted Dr. Fujimoto who said the eRumor quoted him fairly accurately.
His concern was whether a combination of ingredients, especially plastics and food fats, could result in food being contaminated by dioxins when heated in a microwave.
That is his observation and he claims to have research substantiating it.
TruthOrFiction.com has twice asked for him to give us that research but has never received it.
He said that he is surprised about how little Americans know about dioxins in everyday life because in Japan, the majority of the population knows about them and the country has enacted regulations to protect its people.
He explained that in his view, heating food in a plastic container will produce the release of dioxins and fat will absorb them.
The amount of migration of dioxins to fat, he said, will be a function of the heat in the microwave, the type of plastic, the length of time of exposure, and the amount of fat that is in contact.
Dr. Fujimoto pointed out that the amounts of dioxins in any given piece of plastic or food that is microwaved in plastic is very small, but that the problem is that dioxins get into the human body and accumulate.
He sad that in Japan, there has been a complete change in the way foods are packaged so that plastic is avoided.
They use more glass, for example.

In early 2004, a corrupted version of the eRumor started circulating that made it appear as though Dr. Fujimoto was also concerned about putting water in plastic bottles and freezing it, but he never addressed that.
This version of the eRumor also made it sound as though the plastic itself was the problem, not the plastic in combination with food and heat.
It says, for example, that the heat causes dioxin (sic) to "drip from the plastic" into the food but none of the researchers has claimed that.

Another version of eRumor about the seventh-grader has been a little more difficult to detail.
We've confirmed that there is a Dr. Jon Wilkes at the National Center for Toxilogical Research who, along with a Claire V. Nelson, published a paper at a professional event in Orlando, Florida in 1998 and it was on the subject of food contamination from plastic wrap.
We've not found the actual study, however, and have never received a response from Dr. Wilkes.
The eRumor about Jon Wilkes and Claire Nelson appears to have come from the Options Newsletter published by People Against Cancer at www.peopleagainstcancer.com.

The folks who make Saran Wrap have responded to the eRumor.
A statement by the SC Johnson company says the "plasticizer" in Saran Wrap is derivative of naturally occurring citric acid found in citrus fruits and is 100% dioxin free.
The statement further adds that dioxins can only be formed with chlorine is combined with the kinds of high temperatures associated with waste incinerators, temperatures like 1,500 degrees F.
Even the most powerful microwaves are not capable of those temperatures, according to the company.
SC Johnson says none of its products contains dioxins.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, dioxins are both natural and man-made.
The man-made dioxins are released into the air from sources like waste incineration, from burning fuels (like wood, coal or oil), and certain types of chemical processing.
Almost every person has been exposed to low levels of dioxins and the EPA says there is research that suggests that high levels of dioxins may be correlated with various health problems, although some of that is extrapolated from studies of animals, not humans.
The only reference we could find about dioxins and microwaves was from an FDA publication that was concerned about dioxins resulting from the bleached manufacture of paper goods including milk cartons and some paper containers for microwave dinners.
That was not about plastics and high temperatures, however, and the levels of dioxins were described as safe.

The Food and Safety Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has published guidelines for safe cooking in microwave ovens and warns against using materials that are not regarded as microwave safe.
CLICK HERE for those guidelines.
You'll note that one of the guidelines is to avoid letting plastic wraps touch food!
That is another issue, however, and not related to dioxins or high heat in microwaves.

The Food and Drug Administration has also issued a statement about plastics and microwaves.
CLICK HERE for that document.

The American Plastics Council has also posted a page on the subject.
CLICK HERE for their take on the dioxin question.

Somewhere along the way someone decided to add that all this information had appeared in newsletters from Johns Hopkins University and Walter Reed Army Medical center, but we've not found that to be true.

Last updated 5/17/04

This is how my research started
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 
Sorry, I missed a few posts.
I originally reccommended reading "OUR STOLEN FUTURE" by Theo Colborn. There is a web site where you can get some information but you'll have to wade through a lot of over-the-top sensationalism.
As for getting sick from plastic (I'm sorry I don't know who you were referencing), I would bet the person had a special sensitivty to something but of course ... who can say for sure? There is so much going on with people with hyperactive sensitivities caused by autoimmune reactions from overexposure. And it's unfortunate that the A.M.A. is so geared to treating the symptoms of individuals as opposed to looking at all thse occurances and looking for a cause. Even if the illness was caused from hypersensitivty, if the plastic wasn't "sluffing" they would not have had anything to react to.

But I'll argue the sheperd issue! Think of all those billions of every day people reading those zillions of issues of cooking magazines. It's the chefs in the popular restaurants who are influencing them of what is the best/hottest/most desirable thing! The chef does it, the writer/critic talks about it, the magazine tells them how to do it, the market responds to it. If we proceed to tell people that the "best" way to prepare ----- is to poach sous-vide then ..., by golly, everyone will believe it.
post #20 of 21
Rose,
I was refering to Keeper of the Gods who had gotten sick during a week of classes exposed to cling wrap. I was actually trying to see if I could get a hold of some of that research.I'm not here to argue anything and do agree that persons that are in the teaching,critic,etc. are responsible to pass on any useful information, I thought we were just talking about cooks and bakers.
I posted that blurb out of frustration, this was the only thing I could find under plastic contamination when googling. Probably not a good search title.
Jeff
I buzzed through the local grocery store last night for some pop, now I'm wondering which container to buy :confused: , on the way out things were jumping right out at me like this new mac and cheese, no traditional cooking, just throw it in the microwave. I didn't stop to see the directions, but a little scary.
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #21 of 21
Thread Starter 
It's very-very scary. This book would have been published '96-ish, and things have gotten worse since then!
But I love a good argument. The reason I chose to post this thread is that I believe we, AS CHEFS, are the frontline. The critics don't talk about it, the teachers don't teach it unitl we've done it.
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