When most people think of dangers in their kitchen, they think of hot kettles, chip pans and sharp knives, but there are other hidden dangers that can have serious adverse effects on your health. You may be using these items every day without thinking about how they could be making you sick, or making you put on weight.
Plastic Utensils and Containers
Plastic utensils and containers can be incredibly bad for you. Prolonged exposure to plastics can increase your risk of cancer and affect the way your body produces certain hormones, encouraging weight gain. The good news is, this is one risk that you can minimise quite easily.
Get rid of those plastic spatulas and ladles and replace them with old-fashioned stainless steel ones. They’re easier to clean, last longer, and are much better for your health. Stop using plastic bowls and jugs and buy glass ones instead. If you buy bottled water, drink it immediately after opening it and don’t re-use the bottle.
The biggest risk from plastics comes if you buy frozen meals and cook them in the plastic container. When the container heats up, this causes it to release those toxic and endocrine disrupting chemicals. Bisphenol A (BPA) is the most well-known problematic compound in the plastics commonly used in the kitchen, but there are many other pthalates and dioxins that should be avoided. If you can, stay away from plastic bottles, cups and cutlery, and definitely don’t eat ready meals that are designed to be cooked in plastic containers.
Don’t assume that you’re safe if you use paper cups. Most paper cups (at least the ones used in coffee shops) are lined with a thin layer of plastic, and this is just as unhealthy as foam or hard plastics.
Teflon was heralded as an amazing time-saving invention when it was first released, but recent studies performed by the Environmental Working Group have found that when heated to very high temperatures, teflon coated pans release toxic fumes that may cause birth defects and increase your risk of cancer, strokes and heart attacks. The fumes can also act as an immunosuppressant.
It’s not worth risking such health problems to save a few minutes on the washing up. Instead of using teflon, invest in some stainless steel cookware and cure it the old-fashioned way.
How often do you wash your dishcloths, sponges and towels? If you’re leaving damp sponges and wipes next to the sink after you do the washing up, you could be making yourself and your family sick. Warm, moist sponges and cloths are a perfect breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria. According to one study conducted by the University of Arizona, the sponge you use to clean your kitchen could be 200,000 dirtier than your toilet seat; and you use that sponge to wipe down plates and utensils that you eat with!
To keep your kitchen cloths clean, you should wash them at 60C or higher, using a good disinfectant. Sponges and disposable cloths should be wrung out carefully after each use, and changed regularly. Wash your hands before you start doing the washing up, and don’t use the same cloth to clean both plates and counter tops.
Your Fridge Interior
Another area that is often unexpectedly unclean is the interior of your fridge. A 2012 Hygiene in the Home study surveyed 180 homes around the world, and found that in fridge interiors were second only to bathroom seals in terms of having worrying levels of bacteria growth. More than 40 percent of the homes in the survey had fridges with bacteria and mould build-up, and E.Coli was one of the main bugs found in those fridges.
Be sure to clean your fridge regularly. Check the drainage area for mould build-up, and wipe down all parts of the fridge with a mild disinfectant.
Microwave ovens are a popular time-saver, but over the years since they became popular many people have questioned how safe they are to use. Microwaves heat food by making the water molecules in the food resonate at high temperatures. Eventually, the water turns to steam, and it’s that steam that heats the food. While this process is going on, the food’s chemical structure changes.
Contrary to popular believe, microwave ovens don’t make your food radioactive, so microwaves are safe in that respect. However, microwaving food does damage essential nutrients in the food, so it’s not the best way to cook things if you’re concerned about your health. In addition, microwave safe dishes, and “microwave in the packet” products contain a lot of PET, BPA and other harmful plastics which can be carcinogenic or otherwise toxic.
Another problem with microwaves is that they don’t heat food evenly. Many young children have suffered burns by drinking baby formula that was cooked un-evenly. The mother checks the formula and finds the bit that they tasted was at the perfect temperature, but further into the bottle there are pockets of “super-heated” formula that hurt their child. This problem can be prevented by shaking the bottle and leaving it to stand for a minute or two before serving it.
Microwave ovens, if used carefully and kept in good condition, are not going to irradiate your household and turn you and your family into the Incredible Hulk, but they do have problems. Try to use traditional ovens or steam cookers instead.
The above is just a few of the hidden dangers in your kitchen. You don’t have to replace every item in your kitchen today, but when you’re buying new appliances and cookware, think about what’s in them and how they’re made. Some simple changes could do a lot for your family’s health.