Are Ziploc Bags & Containers Safe? Do’s And Don’ts

Ziploc bags

Ziploc bags and plastic containers are safe as long as you take the necessary precautions for use. Always check for temperature guidelines and labels that mark the product safe for use in the oven, microwave, and dishwasher. Ziploc bags can be reused and recycled. 

Do Ziploc Bags Contain Phthalates?

No, Ziploc bags do not contain phthalates. The addition of phthalates adds to the durability of plastics. But not all kinds of plastics utilize this particular chemical due to its associated ill effects, including asthma, obesity, and breast cancer.

Do Ziploc Bags Contain BPA?

Bisphenol A or BPA is a chemical component commonly found in epoxy resins and polycarbonate plastics. There are permitted levels of BPA found in many commercial items such as hygiene products, food-can coatings, plastic food containers, water supply pipes, and milk-container liners. The presence of BPA beyond regulated levels can be hazardous to human health. 

Even when the FDA (Food and Safety Administration) allows small amounts of BPA in plastics, one needs to recognize that the chemical severely affects the brain and prostate gland of infants and children. It has shown links to cancer, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, type two diabetes, and elevated blood pressure in adults. Interestingly, BPA can disrupt our hormonal function by mimicking the hormone estrogen in our bodies. 

Thankfully, Ziploc bags and containers do not contain BPA.

Do Ziploc Bags Contain PFAs?

No, Ziploc bags do not contain PFAs (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). Commonly made of low-density polyethylene, Ziploc and other food bags lack any direct link to PFAs. But the high amounts of PFAs in the environment can contaminate almost anything you come in contact with.

PFAs are artificial chemicals that do not break down easily. They can cause thyroid issues, cancers, immune system deficits, hormonal issues, and congenital disabilities. 

Exposure to the chemical in lower levels does not cause any immediate damage. Due to the same reason, there is a lack of awareness about how we may already show the presence of the chemical in our bloodstreams. Therefore, even though Ziploc bags are free of PFAs, the chances of our exposure to the harmful chemical remain high and dangerous.

Do Ziploc Bags Contain Latex?

No, Ziploc bags are entirely latex-free. 

Do Ziploc Bags Contain PVC?

No, Ziploc bags do not contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Cheap and bulk plastic wraps show the presence of PVC. When exposed to high temperatures, these cheap wraps containing various hazardous plasticizers contaminate food by melting and seeping inside items such as meat, fish, and cheese. 

PVC is known to release toxic chlorine-based chemicals. They cause cancer, damage the immune system, and disrupt hormonal functioning.

Ziploc and most bags made from polyethylene are microwave-safe, whereas any product that has PVC as an ingredient is not. Thus the easiest way to recognize whether the bags or containers have PVC in them is by checking whether the product is marked microwave-safe.

Are Ziploc Bags Freezer Safe?

It is not safe to freeze your sandwich or meat in any wrap they get delivered in. Plastic wraps that are not freezer safe deteriorate when exposed to low temperatures to a prolonged extent. They leech into the food item, making it unfit for consumption.

Ziploc bags are freezer-safe. They adhere to the regulations of the FDA and are one of the much cheaper options among many freezer bags available in the market. If you compare a freezer bag and a regular one, you will notice that the former is much thicker to endure stress and prevent punctures and tears. 

The quality of your freezer also comes into question when we consider freezing food in wraps. Because the only thing that a plastic wrap is supposed to do is to make sure the moisture and air do not come in contact with the food item inside.

You might then wonder why freezer bags are so thick. 

The malfunctioning of freezers may lead to temperature fluctuation, meaning when the temperature goes above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the food will release moisture. And when the temperature goes back low again, the moisture crystallizes to ice inside the wrap.

In such a scenario, a thicker freezer bag prevents puncture and leaking out of the food. It is safer thus to also make sure that your freezer is functioning well while you look out for bags appropriate for low temperatures.

Are Ziploc Freezer Bags Safe for Sous Vide? 

Let us all admit that the vacuum-sealed bags generally used for sous vide cooking are too expensive. 

And if you have ever tried Ziploc bags for the purpose, you’ll also see the product does the job fine. Still, concerns are several when one chooses to opt for Ziploc over vacuum-sealed ones. 

We will address some of the significant concerns to see whether they pose any valid threats.

Firstly, many believe that Ziploc bags do not remove all of the air inside them. With air present, one should be worried both about marinating failure and bacteria growth. The latter could happen while the food gets cooked sous vide, which is scary.

But prevention of bacterial growth is more related to cooking temperatures than vacuum sealing. The fear of too much air in Ziploc bags does not necessarily mean a bacterial excess, since the temperature exposure for both kinds of bags is similar.

However, if you prefer not to use a vacuum sealer to remove all the air inside the bag, there are ways such as the water displacement method that is pretty easy and have proven success rates. 

The second concern is about chemicals leaching into the food items.

Before we get into any details, note that the vacuum-sealed bags contain the same materials as Ziploc bags. They both lack the presence of BPA, dioxin, and chlorine. 

Only make sure to stray clear from any bags containing PVC for sous vide cooking. 

The third concern is whether Ziploc bags melt during the process of cooking. Since sous vide temperatures are generally below 190 degrees Fahrenheit, one need not concern themselves with the fear of melting with such bags. Of course, plastics melt at high temperatures, and any above 195 degrees Fahrenheit will soften Ziploc as it contains polyethylene. 

Are Ziploc Bags Safe for Breastmilk?

Ziploc bags and containers are indeed a safe option for storing breast milk. They are BPA-free and sturdy. Only make sure to place them where the chances of puncture are less. 

Storing breast milk in disposable feeding bottle liners or sandwich bags is not a great option. They may split while frozen.

Here is a little tip: allowing some space at the top of the bag reduces the chances of friction inside the bag as milk expands on freezing.

Are Ziploc Freezer Bags Safe for Boiling?

Are Ziploc Freezer Bags Boilable?

Exposing Ziploc bags to the boiling temperature of about 212 degrees Fahrenheit will result in the item melting. The product cannot combat any temperature above 195 degrees Fahrenheit due to the presence of polyethylene.

According to manufacturer S. C. Johnson, do not expose Ziploc bags to a temperature above 149 degrees Fahrenheit so as to be on the safer side.

At 158 degrees Fahrenheit, the bag may open at the seams, resulting in the mixing of water and the food item inside. However, double-bagging is an easy and effective solution to the problem. 

Do Ziploc Bags Melt in Boiling Water?

Yes, Ziploc bags melt in boiling water. Be it sous vide cooking gone wrong or an attempt to re-hydrate food, exposure to high temperatures lead to the leaching of hazardous chemicals into the food item. These bags best perform the function of storing rather than cooking. 

Are Ziploc Freezer Bags Recyclable?

Yes, Ziploc freezer bags are reusable and recyclable. They are made of polyethylene plastic resin number four that are easy to recycle. The only issue if these bags were to get recycled with regular plastics is since Ziploc is light, they may get stuck in the recycling equipment resulting in complications. 

There are numerous recycling centers available for this purpose, and a visit to the official Ziploc website will provide you with details associated with their recyclable products. The company utilizes recycled bags to make composite lumber used for doors, windows, playground equipment, etc. 

Plastic bags and containers have to be disposed of properly. If not, they result in serious environmental issues and severe consequences to life. Recycling plastic has several advantages, such as saving raw resources, money, and the planet.

Are Ziploc Freezer Bags Microwave Safe? 

Do Ziploc Bags Melt in Microwave 

All Ziploc bags and containers are FDA approved to microwave. However, the company lucidly states that microwave bags are only safe for reheating and defrosting foods. The act of cooking or steaming vegetables in Ziploc bags is not at all advisable. 

Do check for the manufacturer’s note before you microwave any plastic. Those plastic products that are safe in the microwave will explicitly mention it, along with the extent to which that safety holds. 

For instance, with Ziploc, the manufacturer’s note tells you nothing about how long you can keep the bag in the microwave. The only disclaimer is to not overheat the product.

Therefore, while microwaving Ziploc bags and containers, extra care has to be taken: keep the bag unsealed to prevent steam from building inside, heat in medium to low power, and check every thirty seconds to make sure the bag is not overheating.

Microwaving Ziploc bags without taking necessary precautions is strictly advised against. 

Can Ziploc Bags be Vacuum Sealed? 

Yes, Ziploc bags can be vacuum-sealed, and there are several ways to do so. Vacuum sealing helps these bags store food in bulk for extended periods, prevent bacterial and fungal growth, and avoid freeze burns. Vacuum sealing machines are expensive, but it is a one-time investment that can go a long way in making better use of Ziploc bags.

Vacuum-sealed Ziploc bags are also helpful in storing anything you would like to keep away from moisture and dirt, such as important documents or items in need of an emergency.

Can Ziploc Containers Go in the Dishwasher?

Yes, Ziploc containers can go in the dishwasher. The fact that the product is suitable for microwaves and high temperatures deem it safe to be in a dishwasher. A cautious approach would be to place plastic containers on the top rack of the dishwasher as the bottom part has the heating element.

Even the plastic products that are labeled dishwasher safe will melt if exposed to high temperatures for a prolonged duration.

Can Ziploc Glass Containers Go in the Oven?

Yes, Ziploc VersaGlass containers made of tempered glass are safe for use inside an oven. The tempered glass used in Ziploc is more robust than ordinary glass containers and can withstand, without a lid, up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Most oven-safe containers will have a label on the out indicating the same along with temperature guidelines.

If the container you have with you lacks a label, check the owner’s manual for information on the material used, oven safety, and temperature limit. 

Are Ziploc Bags Safe for Photo Storage?

Yes, Ziploc bags help store photographs. They keep the item away from moisture. The major drawback of storing photographs this way is how the plastic bag does not protect it from exposure to light. 

Ziploc bags contain acid but in amounts much less than ordinary plastic. Many cheap ‘peel and stick’ albums made of ordinary plastic damage the photographs they supposedly preserve. 

Are Ziploc Bags Toxic?

Ziploc bags are not toxic directly because they lack BPA or the threat of dioxin formation due to heat. They comply with the safety requirements put forward by the FDA. However, not following the manufacturer’s label instructions may pose severe health risks to the user. 

No matter how safe Ziploc bags deem to be, they are essentially plastic and a bane to the environment. They are reusable and recyclable, but the extent to which people make use of the item’s potential or whether these faculties indeed reduce the company’s plastic production are both debatable.

Despite the provision of reuse offered by several plastic bag manufacturers, once these bags have marinated meat or stored eggs, cleaning becomes difficult. 

No matter how thoroughly one attempts to clean the plastic bag, the threat of bacterial infection kicks the notion of reuse out of the equation. 

Ziploc bags, if not disposed of the right way, end up in landfills that may heat up to release toxic fumes. Prolonged inhalation of fumes from plastic causes asthma, headaches, skin irritations, and increased risks of heart diseases and organ damage. Furthermore, leaching from landfills contaminates soil and groundwater resources.


Anand Srinivasan
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