can you put tupperware in the microwave

Can You Put Tupperware in the Microwave Safely?

Ian Mutuli
Updated on

The Tupperware brand has been world-famous for creating food storage vessels that you can use in the microwave, to the extent of being the de facto name of microwavable plastic containers. The company offers a product line designed for prepping, storing, freezing and reheating food. But, can you put Tupperware in the microwave?

Ideally, you can place a plastic container in the microwave if it comes with the microwave-safe symbol. Nevertheless, the topic can be confusing since there are numerous factors to consider before you reheat food without transferring it to a glass plate. After all, the FDA, EINECS (European Inventory of Existing Chemical Substances), the TSCA (Toxic Substances Control Act Inventory) and other organizations have set standards to ensure consumer safety.

What Does It Mean for Plastic Food Storage Containers to Be Microwave Safe?

The flexibility, durability, and lightweight nature of plastic make it popular in the manufacturing industry, especially when creating household goods. There are numerous kinds of plastics, and you can determine the type by checking the resin identification code ( a number in the recycle triangle marking) that ranges from 1 to 7. Additionally, each kind is made through a unique process where certain additives are included to give the product-specific properties.

Unfortunately, some of the additives in plastic products can harm you if ingested. For instance, bisphenol A, or BPA, is one of the harmful chemicals that helps make plastic durable and flexible. However, the same substance causes hormonal disruption, reproductive challenges and conditions like diabetes and obesity in humans.

Furthermore, polycarbonate plastic, which typically contains BPA, has been popular with manufacturers. Since the 1960s, the material has been used for food packaging, cutlery like cups and plates and even milk bottles that babies use. In addition, when exposed to heat, the harmful chemicals in such plastic containers can seep into food and cause problems, as mentioned above.

If you see plastic cutlery, even Tupperware products with a resin identification code of 7, it means it is made from BPA containing polycarbonate. Hence, it is probably not microwave-safe. Luckily, manufacturers have switched from polycarbonate to polypropylene, a BPA-free plastic. Plus, due to the dangers of using such products, the FDA ensures that baby-related packaging and containers are BPA-free.

Microwaving food in containers made from other plastics does not guarantee safety. Bisphenol S and F (BPS and BPF) are other chemicals found in other types of plastics that cause hormonal disruption. Therefore, the best way to determine whether you can use a specific container when reheating food is to look out for the microwave-safe symbol.

Are Tupperware Containers Microwave-Safe?

For a Tupperware container to receive the designation of microwaveable or microwave-safe, it has to undergo rigorous testing. For starters, the Food and Environment Hygiene Department checks how much plastic surface area will be in contact with the food. Secondly, the body evaluates the longevity of use inside a microwave and whether users will often utilize it as a plate or bowl for eating.

Furthermore, the department checks the chemicals that leach out, the quantity released and how much of it will make its way into the food stored within the container. Afterward, the producers compile a toxicology report for safety verification after the tested material spends about 240 hours inside a microwave. The Tupperware microwave containers can receive the safe designation if the products pass.

Not all Tupperware containers have microwave-safe symb0l on them. Although they are safe for food storage, putting them in the microwave is not good. Thus, it is critical to stick to ones deemed safe by the FDA by checking for the symbol solely.

How to Avoid BPA Exposure

When using a microwave oven, microwave cooking is not the only way plastics release harmful BPA chemicals. For example, merely using such containers to store food while it is still hot has the potential of causing you harm. In addition, scrubbing the plastics while washing them, typically with abrasive tools, can release the BPA and phthalates.

Furthermore, using certain Tupperware containers for a long time could mean the material degrades after prolonged use and releases the BPA chemical. Using a dishwasher over an extended period is also a factor that can compound the issue. Consequently, it helps to replace your Tupperware microwave containers as soon as you notice cracks, deformations or other tell-tale symptoms of age.

If you want to microwave Tupperware products, it helps to use its original lid. Plastic wraps that cling may contain the BPA and cause health complications. Alternatives like parchment or wax paper will suffice, while a paper towel is also a safe option. Also, look out for a resin identification number of 5, which indicates the product is made from polypropylene.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Is all Tupperware microwaveable?

Prioritize safety and ensure any Tupperware container you plan to use has the microwave-safe symbol. Apply this principle to all plastic containers you plan to use in the microwave. After all, it would be best if you did not take unnecessary risks.

2. What happens if you microwave Tupperware?

Most people know the disastrous effects of putting metal in the microwave while other materials are often safe. Typically, you can microwave Tupperware containers without risking your health, as long as they have the microwave-safe symbol. Unless the plastic container is worn out with cracks and warping, you have nothing to worry about. Hence you can reheat food safely.

Conclusion

Plastic products make life easier. Whether you want to store food in the fridge, put it in a microwave, then eat it from the container, the material is reliable and versatile. Unlike glass, it is likely to withstand numerous drops without damage.

However, the risk of ingesting BPA, a harmful chemical used in manufacturing some plastics, is especially high when heat is involved. Nevertheless, you can microwave plastic Tupperware that meets the FDA standard for being microwaveable. Thus, only stick to microwave-safe Tupperware if you plan to have a hot meal from it or reheat food using the container. 

Featured Image Source: Flickr.com

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.