Storing food and leftovers is extremely important. It saves money, prevents waste, saves trips to the supermarket and allows you to eat delicious leftovers again the next day. This article will be discussing food storage bags. More specifically, are plastic food storage bags safe?
Plastic food storage bags are safe if they are bags approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and label directions are followed. FDA approved plastic food bags have greater purity standards than plastics used for non-food packaging. They don’t contain ingredients considered harmful to humans.
This article will dive more into detail about what kind of bags are approved for food storage and which are not. I’ll discuss what ingredients FDA bags don’t have and why. In addition, can they be reused?
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Disclaimer: Some of links in this article are affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Plastic Food Storage Bag Safety
There’s a big difference between plastic food storage bags and plastic bags. Plastic food storage bags are not garbage bags or the plastic bags used in supermarkets to carry groceries home in. Therefore, why are plastic food storage bags safe?
Plastic food storage bags are safe for the following reasons:
- Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
- Contain greater purity standards.
- Don’t contain dyes or recycled plastic harmful to humans.
- Bisphenol A (BPA) free.
- Dioxin Free.
- They meet FDA requirements for temperatures associated with the refrigerator and freezer.
Plastic food storage bags are made of low density polyethylene. Due to its low cost and flexibility, it’s also used in squeeze bottles, caps, liners, trash bags and films for food packaging. Polyethylene has been deemed safe by the FDA 1.
What makes certain plastics, like the ones used for plastic food storage bags, FDA compliant? 2.
- The plastic must be able to withstand the environment it will be used in.
- It has to be compatible with the type of food it will be in contact with.
- The plastic will not leach any chemicals if a food is acidic like tomato sauce.
Bisphenol A (BPA) Free
BPA is a chemical produced in large quantities for the production of plastics and epoxy resins. Some of the plastics containing BPA include the following:
- Food-can coatings.
- Milk container liners.
- Food containers.
- Baby bottles.
- Water bottles.
BPA can leach into food from these plastics depending on temperature. A study conducted by the CDC, found detectable levels of BPA in 93% of 2,517 urine samples from people aged six years and older 3.
A study released in 2014, showed BPA encouraged the growth of prostate cancer cells. The study involved 60 patients which found higher levels of BPA in prostate cancer patients than in patients without prostate cancer 4.
Plastic food storage bags, like Ziploc, specifically states on their box and website their bags are BPA free 5.
Dioxins are a group of several hundred toxic chemical compounds 6. Dioxins take a long time to break down in the environment and can cause the following problems:
- Damage to the immune system
- Reproductive problems
- Developmental problems
- Interfere with hormones
90% of human exposure to dioxins are from eating food like meat, dairy, fish and shellfish. The dioxins are mainly found in the fatty tissue of animals. In 2008, Ireland recalled tons of pork when up to 200 times the safe limit of dioxins were detected in the pork 7.
Burning garbage which includes plastic waste is a major source of air pollution 8. Many localities have been banning plastic bags at places like stores and supermarkets. The ziplock plastic food storage bag website states their plastic bags are free of dioxins 5.
Plastic food storage bags are one of those grocery items I do not purchase the generic brand to save money. For me, there’s too much safety at risk.
Therefore, I always purchase the Ziploc brand. To offset some of the cost, I shop on Amazon for them where I find them more affordable. Check the current prices here, Ziploc bags.
Is It Safe To Wash and Reuse Ziploc Bags?
It is safe to wash and reuse Ziploc food storage bags. The Ziploc company states on their packaging that Ziploc bags are reusable after hand washing and drying. It is not recommended to reuse Ziploc bags after storing raw meat, fish, eggs or potentially allergy triggering foods.
If in doubt, do not wash or reuse a plastic food storage bag regardless of the food used. When you wash and reuse the plastic food bags, you run the risk of not washing them properly. It could cause old food to mix in with your fresh food, which can be dangerous.
Washing and reusing increases the risk of having an incident where you don’t correctly rinse the plastic food bag. Even if it looks dry or rinsed, you might end up getting dish soap in your food. So, overall, it is best to try and avoid it.
Storing Fruit In Plastic Food Bags
Many of my clients have asked me about storing fruit safely. A common question asked is, should you store fruit in plastic food storage bags? Fruit can be stored in plastic food storage bags but not in plastic bags not made for contact with food.
Out of all the types of foods you can store in a plastic food bag, it is assumed that storing fruit is the safest option. You can store any fruit in a plastic food bag. When storing fruit in a plastic food bag, you want to place it in the fridge or freezer.
In addition, remove as much air out of the plastic food bag as possible. Sometimes it is best to get vacuum seal bags, but if you are not storing the fruit for extended periods, you should be OK with regular plastic food storage bags.
The best way to remove the air from a freezer bag is using a vacuum sealer. If you don’t have one, you can close the bag almost all the way and insert a straw to suck out the remaining air.
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Is it Safe to Store Plastic Food Bags in the Freezer?
It is safe to store plastic food bags in the freezer made for the freezer. Freezer plastic food bags are thicker and have a stronger clasp to secure the bag. Plastic bags not made for food storage are unsafe to store food in the freezer.
There are plastic food bags specifically designed for the freezer. You should always use these types of plastic food bags instead of regular ones if you plan on placing them in the freezer. Let’s take a look at what happens when you do not use the correct type of storage bag.
- The plastic bag may leak.
- The bag closure may open up and expose the food to the air.
- The bag may break or split open.
Three Risks of Using Plastic Food Storage Bags
Here are three risks you may encounter with plastic food storage bags:
- Some non-food bags may be used accidentally which may be toxic.
- Pests or animals can bite through the plastic.
- Warm food causes condensation.
Most freezer bags are made with a chemical called polyethylene; this is a non-toxic substance. Sandwich bags and freezer bags are generally safe for people to use. However, depending on which food-storage plastic bag you get, they could have toxic chemicals.
These chemicals will not make you sick but may have adverse long-term effects. It is essential to use bags specifically for food storage.
Secondly, if you do not store your plastic food storage bags in the refrigerator or freezer, there is a slight chance pests or animals could bite through the plastic and get to your food. However, you can solve this simply by storing your food away correctly.
If you store warm food in a plastic food storage bag, it can cause condensation. This can change the texture of the food in a negative way.
Can you store soups or stews in plastic food storage bags? Soups or stews can be stored in plastic food storage bags made for the freezer. It is not recommended to store liquids in regular plastic food storage bags.
Can you microwave plastic food bags? Plastic food storage bags made for the freezer can be microwaved. The defrost or medium to low power setting must be used. Do not microwave plastic freezer bags on high power or overheat food above 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
When using a freezer bag in the microwave, place the bag on a microwave safe dish and vent the bag 1 inch. Overheating the bag contents may cause the bag to melt 9.
Regular food storage bags not made for the freezer should not be microwaved. Ziploc states on their packaging, not recommended for use in the microwave.
Read Next – More Food Storage Articles For You!
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- FDA: Indirect Additives used in Food Contact Substances
- FDA: Packaging & Food Contact Substances (FCS)
- National Institute of Environmental Health Services: Bisphenol A (BPA)
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Exposure to bisphenol A correlates with early-onset prostate cancer and promotes centrosome application and anchorage-independent growth in vitro
- Ziploc: Sustainability & Safety
- EPA: Learn about Dioxin
- WHO: Dioxins and their effects on human health
- UN environment program: Plastic bag bans can help reduce toxic fumes
- Ziploc: Ziploc Brand Freezer Bags