Should You Use Plastic Liners In Your Slow Cooker?

Maybe you've seen a hack online. Maybe you've noticed a specifically-made product in the grocery store. However you heard about it, though, now you're interested in adding a plastic liner to your slow cooker to make clean up easier. After all, how many times have you cooked up something delicious in your slow cooker, hoping to make life easier, only to end up scraping and scrubbing that same delicious dish off the bottoms and sides (or maybe you just gave up and left the thing in the sink to "soak" for a few days)? A plastic liner might very well remove this problem.

However, the liners could make some people uneasy. Plastic and food aren't necessarily a good mix. Consuming chemicals in plastic might disrupt your body's hormones, promote obesity, promote diabetes, increase your risk for certain cancers, and more, according to EatingWell. So a person might wonder, "How could dropping a piece of plastic into the bottom of a slow cooker and then cooking it on high for eight hours really be safe?"

How are slow cooker liners safe?

Quite a lot of plastics and quite a lot of chemicals are currently considered "safe" by the government. However, the exact chemicals and plastics used in slow cooker liners aren't public knowledge. This, along with ongoing research into the safety of food-adjacent plastics, makes it difficult to say one way or the other just how safe slow cooker liners are, Janilyn Hutchings, a food safety professional at StateFoodSafety, told EatingWell

On the flip side, according to Allrecipes, who spoke with Charry Brown, senior manager at Reynolds Test Kitchen, it is possible to find slow cooker liners that are ranked safe for use up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (so definitely able to withstand your slow cooker's highest setting) and that are BPA-free. Brown points out that a more immediate safety risk slow cooker liners might pose is breakage, which can cause burning and potentially hazardous splattering if you're using the liner to attempt to lift the food from your pot (so wait to remove it until after you've removed your food). 

It's worth noting that the Crockpot brand sells its own slow cooker liners made from nylon resin that it reports are BPA-free and FDA-approved for use at temperatures up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Reynolds Kitchens' slow cooker liners are likewise made from BPA-free, FDA-compliant nylon.