Information From the FDA on Food Packaging

The FDA takes our oversight of food additives, including food contact substances, very seriously. We review scientific literature and other information to ensure the continued safety of substances approved for food contact. The FDA also wants to remind consumers that they should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on food packaging labels for information on proper product use in the refrigerator or freezer, oven, dishwasher, or microwave. –FDA

How do you respond to consumer concerns that microwavable plastic bags, specifically the actual plastic materials, may have an affect on their food contents when heated up?  

Before a plastic material is marketed to the consumer, the FDA evaluates the plastic under the most extreme conditions of use -- including microwave use -- requested by the manufacturer, in order to account for all constituents of the plastic that might migrate from the plastic to food during cooking and storage.  Once we determine what might migrate from the plastic, and how much gets into the food, FDA toxicologists determine whether that level of exposure is safe.  If it is not safe, we do not permit the use. 

There have been studies that suggest an association between food packaging materials and toxicity after the plastic is heated in the microwave. How does your organization evaluate these products to ensure they are safe?  

There have been, over the years, reports circulating on the internet saying that microwave heating changes plastic packaging into some sort of toxic material.  These reports are not credible.  All food packaging materials intended for use in the microwave are tested and evaluated for safety under microwave cooking conditions to ensure that they are safe for that use.

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