13 Responses to “Is It Safe to Cook with Plastic?”

  1. Hatton W. Sumner says:

    Nathan,
    If you were cooking something that required 1 hour @ 140?F in a plastic bag, how long would it take in a Mason jar preheated to that temperature?
    Hatton

  2. Justin says:

    Nathan,
    What about the claims of leaching EA into the bags.

    This blog post has a solid summary of the issue, and a recent study found many BPA free bags still leach chemicals with estrogenic activity (EA). I won’t dive into why this is problematic but was curious if you have seen this study.

    study
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/?term=10.1289/ehp.1003220

    blog post.
    http://nomnompaleo.com/post/12463202060/cooking-sous-vide-plastic-safety

    • Larissa Zhou says:

      @Justin –
      The paper raises some important questions. With regards to sous vide cooking, while the study did find that a significant percentage of HDPE products contained detectable levels of EA, the stress (>100 C autoclave, repeated microwave exposure, etc) exposed to these products were very different from the type of stress occurring during sous-vide cooking. This study shows that we are learning more and more about the chemicals that surround us, though it does not answer questions such as the health effects of EA on humans, and if there are indeed negative effects, the minimum dosage for detection. For now, as nom nom paleo concludes as well, bags made specifically for sous vide are your best bet.

      Larissa
      Research scientist at Modernist Cuisine

  3. Jonathan says:

    there’s a lot of discussion about plasticizers here.

    Are there concerns about the release and binding agents used in bag manufacture?

    • Larissa Zhou says:

      Are there certain ones that you have in mind?

      Larissa

      • Jonathan says:

        Hi Larissa,

        This is where my knowledge gets limited, unfortunately. I dug into this a bit and ran smack into the end of the internet.

        I would assume the most useful information would be about the processing agents used in producing Ziploc brand freezer and ‘sous vide’ bags, as those are the bags most of us in America use.

        Sorry to be inspecific, is this enough to clarify?

        Thanks.
        Jonathan

  4. ChuckMD says:

    A widely used appliance for vacuum sealing of foods, one of wich I own, is FoodSaver (TM). Are FoodSaver brand bags suitable for sous vide cooking?

  5. Larissa Zhou says:

    @Raf – Heating can cause the plastic to break down and increase the speed of diffusion of the molecules into the surroundings. There are now BPA-free blender pitchers available (from KitchenAid, for example). However, the temperature of caramelized carrot soup and the duration of blending is much lower and shorter than the circumstances of the experiments that raised the issue of the harmfulness of BPA. For example, in the paper that Justin mentioned, samples were autoclaved at 134 C or heated in a microwave 10 times for 2 minutes each.
    For general ease of handling and if you are concerned about the temperature, you can wait for the soup to cool down a bit before blending.

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