If you’re a parent, any gadget that saves you time is a good thing, and putting your baby’s food in the microwave to warm it up can be super handy.
But experts warn the time-saving hack could contaminate your baby’s food.
Baby food often comes in plastic bags.
A team of food scientists, engineers and environmental specialists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have found that large amounts of microplastic particles are released from plastic baby bags when they are microwaved.
These are tiny pieces of plastic waste that are invisible to the naked eye, but often contain toxic chemicals that are harmful to the environment.
We unknowingly take on up to one credit card of it every week, which can lodge in our nose and throat or end up in our poop.
When they noticed that a lot of baby food is now packaged in small plastic bags that can be conveniently heated in the microwave, they wanted to find out what was happening.
They bought a range of microwaveable baby food products and tested them in their lab.
While observing how the containers responded to the microwave and not the food itself, the team removed the food and washed the bags.
They then filled some of them with nano-pure deionized water to simulate watery foods, and others with ACS-grade 3 percent acetic acid to simulate acidic foods.
The researchers heated the containers in the microwave for different amounts of time and then measured how many plastic particles ended up in the simulated food.
They also placed containers filled with water and acetic acid in the fridge to observe how much plastic was released without the “food” heating up.
Findings of the study – published in the journal environmental science and technology – showed that while the amount of microplastics varied significantly, all simulated baby food samples contained high levels of plastic.
For example, the contents of a bag that has been refrigerated for six months should be spiked with approximately 580,000 microplastic particles ranging in size from 1 to 14 microns.
The same container then released another four million particles into the baby food when heated in the microwave.
Doctors have previously warned that some baby food pouches may contain more sugar than a regular Coca-Cola.