Some people are dubious about using cling film/plastic wrap. I’ve not been able to find any peer-reviewed scientific studies to say that it’s harmful, or anything more than a lot of unsubstantiated scare-mongering.
However, UK director of food packaging safety testing, PIRAS International, Nick Kernoghan has stated:
It isn’t the plastic itself that is an issue but the chemicals added to it that can cause people to worry. Clingfilm contains plasticisers to give it its distinctive flexibility and while the plastic itself won’t leak into the food tiny amounts of these chemicals could. That’s why all new plastic products used in food packaging or in the preparation of food have to go through lengthy toxicology tests overseen by the European Food Safety Authority. No product can be sold if, even under the most extreme conditions, it leaches out any more than one 100th of the amount of a substance that could possibly have an effect on human health.
On the Cancer Research UK website, it says:
There is no good scientific evidence that microwaving food in plastic containers or wrapped in cling film can affect the risk of cancer.
In the US, food packaging is rigorously tested and overseen by the FDA. Again, if it’s proved to be dangerous, it doesn’t get to market.
A little while ago, someone left the following comment on my sausage recipe:
I wanted to say that I really don’t trust the US Food and Drug administration to keep us safe. They definitely don’t. They follow the dictates of Big Food Interest.
As a European, I have no personal experience of what the FDA may or may not get up to but I have seen reports of some of their testing, and they seem to be genuine. I’m not convinced the average person on the street is in a position to say with any authority what the FDA definitely does or does not get up to.
Politicians and the FDA
When I worked for a team of lawyers in New York City, I had to do a lot of research into the safety and authenticity of food supplements (it was very eye-opening), and I can tell you that there are many, many members of the FDA who are just as appalled at the way big business, and some politicians (e.g. Orrin G Hatch… whose name sounds like a sexually-transmitted disease) are able to influence decisions made by the FDA.
Or rather, the way they are able to prevent certain products actually being regulated by the FDA.
For example, thanks to Hatch, manufacturers of herbal and dietary supplements have not been subjected to the same scrutiny as other food and drug products. Utah (Hatch’s stomping ground) is home to huge supplements companies, such as Xango, which – along with other supplement manufacturers in Utah – donates millions of dollars to Hatch’s ‘election campaigns’… basically keeping him and his family in the lap of luxury.
Hatch has repeatedly blocked moves to regulate the herbal and dietary supplement industry – moves which would actually benefit the American public by protecting them from products which could potentially contain illegal and unsafe ingredients. In addition to obstructing efforts to tighten up controls over dietary supplements, Hatch sponsored the 1994 federal law which restricts the FDA from subjecting herbal supplements to its strict approval process.
Not every politician is interested in preventing the FDA doing their job however. There are plenty who appear to be waging war against corruption on many levels (including the herbal supplements industry).
My point is that it’s all very well saying that the FDA doesn’t protect American citizens, and cannot be trusted when it states (for example) that plastic wrap is safe, but if it’s being castrated by the US political system, and not even able to regulate things, is it the fault of the administration, or does the blame lie with a corrupt political system?
It might even be argued that actually, people only have themselves to blame, since they vote these people into power, and in doing so, send the message that they are OK with all these kinds of shenanigans.
And how are people to know which findings are genuine and which are dubious? The only people who genuinely know are the ones doing the testing.
How do you decide what to believe and what not to believe?
Cling film has been in use since the early 1930s, and to be perfectly honest, were it as dangerous as is claimed in some quarters, it would not be on the market – if only for no other reason than it would not be profitable to manufacture a product that was responsible for making so many people sick.
The fact that all the hoo-ha has only cropped up relatively recently – around the same time as the ‘wellness’ movement – and is largely perpetuated by people with an agenda and something to sell, suggests to me that I have no reason to be concerned about using it.
I always encourage people to do their own research, and use common sense in order to make informed choices; ergo, in this case, if you’re not confident that plastic wrap is actually safe, and the FDA and EFSA are lying, then don’t use it. It’s up to you.
Similarly, if you don’t want politicians putting profit over people, don’t vote for them.
I don’t have a problem using clingfilm but if you do, then simply use something else. Don’t come to my blog, telling me I’m wrong for using something, just because you choose to believe the woo.
Of course, if you don’t want to use cling film for ecological reasons, then we can stand side by side, and fight the use of plastic together!
(For the record, I reuse my cling film whenever I can, and to be honest, I actually don’t use it very often because I have little need of it, and I use lidded glass containers to store food.)