If you are buying from a food vendor, which is all restaurants, grocery stores or anyone that serves food in any manner, know that they must be licensed by the state and, in some cases, the federal government in order to cook, prepare, process and serve food products.
Yes, your food is watched closely to assure it is safe for consumption.
But what about carry out food? The rules are the same, except for one thing – carry-out containers. All containers must be food safe and they are usually made from plastic. This includes all the plastic containers you have at home for food storage.
Recent studies have suggested plastic containing BPA is hazardous to your health. Now, before you start throwing out all those plastic food containers in the house and stop ordering carry out, take a deep breath and read on.
No, not all plastic containers have BPA, but it might be time for you to start looking at what you have in the house. For example, my wife has purchased every type of plastic food container ever made. We could probably open the first Museum of Plastic Food Containers and charge admission! I can see it now, shelves upon shelves of tops and bottoms of containers that do not match.
Polyethylene and polypropylene are alternative plastics that researchers have determined as safe. Glass is great, but I am way too clumsy and stainless steel can be expensive.
How can you check to see if your containers are safely made with polyethylene? Glad you asked.
You will see a recycling code, usually on the bottom indicating a 1, 2, 4 or 5 that are considered safe alternates. You should avoid purchasing containers for food storage it they are numbered with a 3, 6, or 7. Call the manufacturer to ask if you’re still not sure. They all have customer or consumer hotlines.
Oh, by the way, plastic zip lock bags are good, but not all plastic bags are safe. The safest way to store your food is to simply avoid plastic as much as possible. Go shopping for food storage alternatives, there are a lot from which to choose.
Something new in the carry-out food containers industry is a product made from sugarcane called bagasse, which is the dry, pulpy, fibrous residue that remains after sugarcane or sorghum stalks are crushed to extract the juice. You can bake it, use it in a microwave, and store it in the freezer. It is also totally biodegradable within two weeks in a landfill and is nonpolluting.
Now is the time to take a few minutes to check your plastic. You probably have a lot of mismatched containers. Here is a good excuse to clean house. I hope they come up with a bottled water product soon. How about a recipe so good there will not be any leftovers? Enjoy.
Chicken Breast with Peach chutney
2-1/2 pounds skinless chicken breast (option boneless salmon filet)
10 ounces sliced fresh peaches (Cannot find fresh? Canned with no sugar added will do.)
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup sliced red onions
1 small shallot diced small (option: garlic clove)
2 tablespoons white chardonnay wine
1 cup fresh fruit sliced (options: apples, pears, pineapple, white grapes, whatever is available)
Place chicken in a roasting pan and cook in oven at 350 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees; set aside to rest.
Place all ingredients, except chicken, in a sauté pan or 2-quart pan and simmer on low heat until all fruits and onions are tender and slightly thickened. Don’t overcook. Serve hot over chicken breast that has been sliced into large strips diagonally.
Costa Magoulas is dean of the Mori Hosseini College of Hospitality and Culinary Management at Daytona State College. Contact him at (386) 506-3578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.