You Should Never Put Plastic Wrap In The Oven. Here's Why

Most of us are familiar with the concerns around plastic. A lot of plastic kitchenware reads "do not microwave" or "not dishwasher safe." According to Food Network, this is because plastic contains chemicals and the heat of a microwave, oven, or dishwasher allows them to "leech" into your food.

That being said, you have likely come across a recipe that tells you to plastic wrap meat before putting it in the oven. Even more likely, you've seen a television chef plastic wrap something prior to placing it in the oven. Celeb chef Robert Irvine lists plastic-wrapping ribs as an important step in his cooking process (via Food Network).

Why are chefs telling us to put plastic wrap in the oven if plastic can release toxins in such conditions? And even if plastic was safe, wouldn't something as thin as plastic wrap melt? Treehugger says plastic wrap won't melt at temperatures under 250 degrees, but the wrap doesn't have to melt in order to release dangerous chemicals. 

The dangers of plastic wrap

According to Prudent Reviews, most plastic wrap brands (including Glad and Saran Wrap) specifically advise against putting their products in the oven. While today's plastic wraps are safer than older versions, Good Housekeeping says some brands still test positive for low amounts of phthalates and BPA.

Even small exposures can add up to serious long-term damage. BPA and other chemicals found in plastic wrap have been found to disrupt childhood development, increase risk for certain cancers, and negatively affect reproductive systems.

So what do you do when a recipe says to use plastic wrap in the oven? World Safety recommends using industrial-grade plastic wrap and double-wrapping with aluminum foil. The foil provides an additional barrier between the heat and the plastic wrap. Another safer alternative is using oven bags, which do not contain toxins, according to Hunker. Whatever you decide to do, always check manufacturers' guidelines before exposing any type of plastic to heat.