How many times can you reuse these?
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Plastic food containers are safe for use if used appropriately, said the Agri-Food and Veterinary Autho- rity of Singapore (AVA). But what is appropriate use?
According to AVA, when it comes to the heating of food, plastic packaging used for the commercial packing of food is not suitable for use in conventional ovens unless indicated otherwise. Instead, use only plastic containers labelled as microwave- safe for microwave cooking or reheating, it said.
AVA said that cold or freezer storage containers like yogurt, margarine and ice-cream tubs are not made for reheating or cooking food in a microwave or conventional oven.
People should not use cling film in ovens or with pots and pans on cooker hobs, where the film may melt into the food. When microwaving food using microwave-safe cling film, ensure that the microwave-safe cling film does not touch the food. Otherwise, the film could get overly hot and melt, or may migrate chemicals into the food.
AVA also warned that takeaway plastic food containers are disposable items designed for single use and are not intended for the repeated storage of food. They are safe for their immediate intended purpose but not beyond what they are designed for. Also, reusable plastic food containers can be subjected to wear and tear after a period of use. According to AVA, they should be replaced when they have turned cloudy, discoloured or if cracks or heavy abrasions appear.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) and AVA also have a separate advisory on the use of melamine food ware. The public is advised not to heat or cook food in melamine food ware or put melamine food ware in a microwave or conventional oven. They should also not use serrated knives, steel wool, harsh abrasive cleaners or metal scouring pads on melamine food ware, or melamine food ware that is damaged on the surface. When used properly, the level of migration of melamine from food ware is insignificant or very low and does not pose a health risk.
Under the Environmental Public Health (Food Hygiene) Regulations, food operators and food handlers are required to ensure that their crockery, utensils or appliances are not chipped, broken, cracked or damaged at all times. Those who spot improper use of plastics in food preparation or packaging at eateries here can call the NEA on 1800-2255-632.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 02, 2016, with the headline ‘Plastic food containers and melamine food ware safe, if used properly‘.