Cling films are a convenient way to cover your food during microwaving.
However, it is plastic. And plastic and carcinogens have become quite synonymous these days.
That’s why many people are concerned about microwaving cling films, thinking that harmful chemicals might seep into their food.
You can microwave cling film however, it is also true that cling film is plastic and contains harmful chemicals. Plus, extreme microwave temperatures can melt it. So, of course, there are some things to consider when you put your food in the microwave in plastic.
The concern regarding cling film is a valid one. Being mindful of these minute things helps us avoid serious health hazards. So, let’s have a look into it in detail.
Should You Be Worried About Microwaving Cling Film?
While microwaving with cling film, you have to take care of two things. First, make sure the plastic is not touching your food. Secondly, don’t set the temperature so high that the cling film melts.
When thinking about the cancer-causing effects of cling film, most people worry about plasticizers. These are ingredients in the plastic wrap.
They give the film their ‘clingy’ property. The general concern is that these plasticizers can get into the food when you microwave food wrapped in plastic film. Especially fatty foods.
However, there is no evidence of this happening at a significant level. Because most developed countries wouldn’t grant a cling film with an alarming amount of plasticizers entry to the market in the first place.
Another concern is Bisphenol A, or BPA. This is one of the chemicals found in cling films that increases the shelf life of plastic packaging products.
There is a popular concept regarding this chemical. People think BPA can get inside your food and then into your body when you microwave food wrapped in cling film.
It is not untrue that BPA can get into your food. However, the levels are so low that they have no effect on the human body.
Researchers heated products such as cling films to extreme temperatures and came to the same conclusion.
Keep in mind that plastics, of course, have cancer-causing effects. But that is only true when you separate a human cell in a lab and expose it directly to plastic ingredients at abnormally high levels.
Needless to say, in the normal world, that is not how human cells come into contact with plastics.
In short, scientific studies have shown that potential carcinogens in cling film cannot get into your food when you microwave it.
And such cancer-causing effects of plastic on human cells are only reproducible in the lab, not in real life.
Risks Of Putting Cling Film In Microwave
From the above discussion, it is clear that you can safely put cling film in the microwave.
The studies mentioned above were conducted by authentic and official organizations. However, these took broad samples of plastic products. A more comprehensive study was conducted by the BBC.
For their study, the BBC bought some cling films from the market that claimed to be safe for microwaving.
Then the samples were sent to an analyst. Here, the hypothesis was that cling films contain epoxidized soybean oil (ESBO), and this chemical can get into foods (especially fatty foods) when microwaved at a high temperature.
Well, the conductors of the experiment performed two tasks. As ESBO dissolves in fatty substances, they tested it on fatty foods.
For a real-life scenario, they microwaved spaghetti in cling film. And for the extreme case, they soaked the cling film in olive oil and put it in an oven at 100 degrees for half an hour.
After that, they tested both samples. It was found that no ESBO transferred to the spaghetti.
In the other sample, where the plastic film was cooked in olive oil, some amount of ESBO did transfer to the oil. However, it was still at very negligible levels.
The conclusion of this study clearly states that carcinogenic materials cannot get into your food from cling films if your food is in a normal situation. And even in an extreme case, the amount that might pass on to your food is not concerning.
However, you may not want to get plastic mixed into your food, even in non-pathological amounts.
That is why the USDA recommends that cling film not touch the food when you are microwaving it.
Plus, another risk of microwaving cling film is that it can melt and ruin your food.
Cling films are at risk of melting when the temperature reaches 2200 F to 2500 F. Or when you are microwaving for more than two minutes.
How To Safely Put Cling Film In Microwave
As long as you are following some safety protocols, there’s no problem with doing it. You have to be sure of three things when microwaving cling film.
First, make sure the cling film does not touch the food. Second, it doesn’t melt into it. And third, microwave-safe cling films.
The Film Should Not Touch The Food
The FDA and USDA, both recommend that the cling film should not touch the food when you are microwaving it. This rules out any unknown or unproven risk of the plastic materials contaminating your food.
When you put the food in the microwave, keep a good gap between the top surface of the food and the cling film. This means it is not recommended to use cling film when you are microwaving food on a plate. Because on a flat plate, the cling film cannot touch the food.
Instead, use a bowl that is wide and deep. Keep a few centimetres of space at the top. And when you put the cling film over the bowl, apply it taut and tightly. So, there is no chance of touching the food due to it becoming loose.
The Film Should Not Melt
Plastic cling films do not directly contribute to any carcinogens. However, if they burn or melt inside the microwave, they can create dioxins. And these chemicals are indeed harmful to the human body. And needless to say, your food will be spoiled too.
So, when you microwave cling film, keep the temperature at medium. Preferably below 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, do not microwave for more than two minutes at a time.
Plus, you can check the label on the cling film’s packaging. And see if there’s any recommended temperature level and duration.
Lastly, to avoid the risk of melting, do not put any plastic product in the microwave that is not intended for such use. For example, single-time use containers.
Use Microwave-Safe Films
One of the safest ways to deal with this whole situation is to use microwave-safe cling film. So, when you buy cling film from the market, check the label to see if it says microwave safe. These films are made from tough materials that are designed to withstand the heat conditions inside a microwave.
Along with that, the container of the bowl you warm your food in should also be microwave safe. Make sure the bowl or container you put in the microwave is not damaged. Otherwise, despite using a safe cling film, the health risks of plastic use will still prevail.
Can you microwave a cling film? Well, hopefully, you got a complete answer to that query. Although researchers haven’t found anything to this date, you don’t know what the future shall reveal.
Therefore, it’s best to follow the food authorities’ guidelines. Don’t let the film touch the food, don’t let it melt, and always use microwave-safe cling film. Thanks for stopping by!
Hi all! I’m Cora Benson, and I’ve been blogging about food, recipes and things that happen in my kitchen since 2019.