Plastic containers, bags, drink bottles, bowls, toys, cups–plastic is part of our lives. We use plastics almost on a daily basis. We freeze food and we cook food in plastic bags and containers. The food we purchase at the market is often wrapped in plastic. The recent concern about Bisphenol A (BPA) has many people questioning the safety of many plastic products. The most common plastic Crock-Pot liners are made from heat-resistant nylon resins. There are a few studies about the migration of chemicals from nylon resin liners to food, but at the current time there are no health risk warnings associated with the use of Crock-Pot liners.
Chemicals Migrate from Plastics to Food
According to the John Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, chemicals in plastics can leach into food that contacts the material, especially if the plastic is heated to high temperatures. The same is true for nylon resin Crock-Pot liners. At high temperatures, chemicals can migrate from the plastic and are absorbed by the food that is in contact with the plastic. Heat agitates the molecules in the material, causing them to break down into their component chemicals. When food comes in contact with the material, the chemical components can migrate from the plastic into the food. Fatty foods tend to absorb more chemicals than other foods. The longer food is in contact with plastic that has begun to release chemicals, the great the concentration of chemical contamination. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, recent studies show that under high temperatures the chemicals that compose nylon, like that used in many Crock-Pot liners, can migrate to food. When the nylon cooking bags are exposed to temperatures up to 200 degrees Celsius (400 degrees Fahrenheit), they can release a number of substances including cyclopentanone, octadecane, heptadecane and 2-cyclopentyl cyclopentanone.
Bisphenol A (BPA)
According to the Food and Drug administration (FDA), a minute amount of chemicals from Crock-Pot liners may migrate to food during the cooking process, especially if exposed to high temperatures for a long period of time. However, the FDA has determined, based on current data, the amount of chemical migration poses no health risk. The FDA sets forth acceptable tolerances for contamination from chemical migration. Recent concerns about the dangers of Bisphenol A (BPA) have prompted the FDA to reconsider its use. Many states like Minnesota have banned products that contain BPA; therefore, according to Good Housekeeping, there is little or no risk of exposure to BPA from plastic Crock-Pot liners. Companies that sell Crock-Pot liners will display the “FDA Approved” seal on the packaging to reassure consumers that the product has been thoroughly tested and approved as safe for use with food preparation.
According to the American Burn Association, one of the most common injuries suffered by using Crock-Pot liners is a burn. Crock-Pot contents can reach temperatures of160 degrees Fahrenheit to 180 degrees Fahrenheit (71 to 82ºC). It takes less than one second of contact with skin at these temperatures to suffer a third-degree burn. The bag should never be lifted out of the Crock-Pot while the contents are hot. Lifting a Crock-Pot liner filled with food can cause it to tear, which can result in the spilling of extremely hot food. Food can be served directly from the pot with the liner intact or spooned into a serving bowl. Do not use a fork when removing food from a lined, hot Crock-Pot. The fork may cause a tear the liner and allow food to contact the crock, which could cause hot liquids to spatter.
References and ResourcesJohn Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Cooking With Plastics
U.S. National Library of Medicine: Potential Migrants in Nylon ‘Microwave and Roasting Bags’ and Migration into Olive Oil
American Burn Association: Scalds: A Burning Issue
Good Housekeeping: Is It Safe to Heat Food in Plastic
ResourcesConsumer Reports: Plastic Worries: What you need to know to keep your family safe
Minnesota Public Radio: Governor Signs BPA Ban, Chemical Oversight Bill