Should I put plastic containers in the microwave?

Person putting a container of food into a microwave

The claim

When you heat food in the microwave using plastic containers or wrap, chemicals may leach out of the container and into the food, increasing your risk of cancer.

Person putting a container of food into a microwave

The truth

There has been some concern that food may absorb plasticizers, the substances used in plastic containers and wraps to make them more flexible. Many people are especially concerned about microwaving at high temperatures or heating fatty or oily foods like cheese and meat. But plastic containers that release anything more than a very small amount of plasticizers are not approved for use in Canada.

How to safely store and reheat food

  • Use glass, ceramic and plastic containers and plastic wrap that are labelled as microwave safe. Always follow the instructions on the label when you use microwave-safe containers to heat food.
  • Never heat or store food in plastic containers that were not intended for food. Single-use containers, like margarine tubs, tend to warp or melt in the microwave. This may allow more of the substances in the plastic to leach into the food.
  • Let food cool before adding it to a plastic container, then put it in the fridge immediately. Avoid plastics that are visibly damaged or stained or have a bad smell.

The Canadian Cancer Society is committed to sharing important information about cancer risk to Canadians and will continue to monitor research in this area.