(UPDATE: It is my understanding that commercial plastic wrap brands no longer contain any PVC. However, concerns about the safety of plastic wrap still exist).
Some brands of plastic wrap contain plasticizers to make the wrap more flexible. These PVC-based cling wraps contain a liquid plasticizer called DEHA (Di-ethylhexyl). While the FDA considers it safe for food use, numerous studies have confirmed that DEHA can leach out of plastic wrap and into food. Since DEHA is a possible human carcinogen that affects the liver in particular, it might be a good idea to avoid it. Foods like cheese and deli meats are of the most concern because they are capable of absorbing higher quantities of DEHA. Also, vinyl chloride, the main building block of PVC, is a known human carcinogen. Apparently, there’s a lot of controversy about whether plastic wrap is really harmful or not, but my feeling is – stay on the safe side – especially when kids are involved.
So, just look for the brands that say ‘PVC-free’ or ‘no plasticizers’, right? Not so easy, I’m afraid. Most brands don’t say what they’re made of because – guess what – they don’t have to. However some brands are catching on to consumer’s concerns so it’s worth a look at the package.
According to The Green Guide’s Plastic Container Report and other sources, here are the brands of plastic wrap to avoid:
- Reynolds Wrap
- Polyvinyl Films All-Purpose Food Wrap
and these are the brands that are OK (they are made of #4 LDPE plastic instead of PVC):
- Glad Cling Wrap
- Saran Cling Plus
- Best-Yet Clear Plastic Wrap
- Diamant Food Wrap
- Natural Value Plastic Wrap (carried at Whole Foods and many co-ops, this brand also uses recycled paper boxes)
A couple more tips about plastic wrap:
- always avoid using plastic wrap in the microwave
- store food in reusable containers or use non-plastic bowl covers instead
Whew! That’s a lot about a pretty boring (but important!) subject.