Is Old Tupperware Safe For Food Storage?

In your adult life, you may find yourself with an abundance of certain things – candles, throw pillows, and Tupperware.

When my husband and I moved in together, we realized we had a lot of Tupperware between us. 

While it’s perfect for storing food, Tupperware is primarily made of plastic, which can sometimes be harmful.

Recently I started doing some research to figure out if it was still safe to use some of our older pieces.

Keep reading to find out if old Tupperware is safe for food storage and how to get the most out of your Tupperware! 

Vintage Tupperware containers, renowned for their durability and unique designs, have become collectible items. These containers, produced from the 1940s onwards, are recognizable by their pastel colors, distinctive shapes, and the iconic ‘burping’ seal. While they are a symbol of mid-century kitchenware, it’s important to note that older Tupperware may not meet current food safety standards due to changes in plastic manufacturing over the years. Collectors often seek vintage Tupperware for nostalgic value or retro kitchen decor, rather than for food storage purposes.

The short answer is simply no, old Tupperware should not be used for food storage. Tupperware with cracks or scratches could contain harmful bacteria that could get into your food and make you very sick.  

Toxic chemicals have been found in the plastic from old Tupperware, which can cause long-term side effects.

Tupperware that is not marked BPA-free should also be disposed of, even if no other signs of wear are present. 

How To Tell If Your Tupperware Is BPA Free

All plastic containers have special identifiers to tell you what kind of plastic they’re made of, and if there’s anything harmful in them.

It doesn’t take a lot to find out if your Tupperware is BPA free, just follow these steps before you choose to throw it out:

  • Look at the bottom of the Tupperware for the plastic resin identification code, aka the triangle with a number in the middle.
  • If you see a 1, 2, 4, 5, or 6, it’s safe to assume it’s BPA free
  • Whether you see a 3 or PVC, it likely contains BPA. 
  • If you see a 7, you won’t be able to determine whether it has BPA or not. This is because 7 is considered the “catch all” category that plastic resins are grouped in.

It doesn’t have to be a daunting task to determine whether your Tupperware is still safe to use.

We hope that with these simple steps you’ll be able to determine whether your old Tupperware is safe. 

Why Is BPA Harmful?

In 2010, Tupperware announced that going forward, their products would be made from BPA-free plastic.

This was an important announcement for many reasons, mostly because of how harmful BPA is to our health. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that BPA can imitate the body’s hormones and interfere with the production of natural hormones. 

Studies have shown that BPA can be toxic to human brains, reproductive systems, and more. It can even lead to an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes in adults. 

When To Throw It Out

If you purchased your Tupperware before 2010, you should consider disposing of it. It’s important to check the old Tupperware in your cabinets to ensure it’s BPA-free.

Despite how new it may look, you should be cautious about using Tupperware not marked as BPA-free. 

Tip

The biggest factor on when you throw out your Tupperware will depend on how well you take care of it.
Once you start to notice any cracks, scratches, or warped spots, you should consider disposing of it or finding another use. 

If you go to use some Tupperware and notice an odd smell, then it’s a sign to throw it out.

It could mean that harmful bacteria are present and could cause you to become sick if used for food storage. 

The Appeal Of Tupperware

Tupperware has always been popular because it’s such a great way to store food, keep it fresh, and ultimately reduce food waste.

In the pandemic, more and more people found themselves cooking at home and needing a great food storage option. 

It’s quick, convenient, and comes in so many different sizes and shapes to fit your needs. The worst part is keeping it organized in your cabinet! 

Tupperware itself can be quite expensive, which is why the idea of throwing it out because of its age is rather difficult. But the cons of keeping around old Tupperware far outweigh the pros. 

For the safety of yourself and your family, you should definitely consider cycling through your old stock of Tupperware. 

Does It Have A Lifetime Guarantee?

When Tupperware was introduced on the market, they had a lifetime guarantee for keeping your food fresh.

All of that changed when it was discovered that BPA was harmful to humans in many ways, and they cut out the use of BPA in their plastic. 

Starting from 2010 on, you can pretty much count on the lifetime guarantee being in place.

Tupperware states that they will also replace any cracked or damaged pieces upon inspection. The exception here is if something is intentionally destroyed for a free replacement. 

It is unclear whether Tupperware will replace any vintage items, especially if they were produced before they stopped using BPA. 

Is Vintage Tupperware Safe?

Since the 1940s, Tupperware parties have been all the rage. You may remember seeing the green or orange containers in your grandma’s kitchen and admiring them like I did. 

But be careful if you inherit any of these pieces or find them at a thrift store. Vintage Tupperware has been found to contain toxins like lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic, and more. 

All of these things can be very dangerous to our health, especially when used around food. As plastic ages, it naturally releases the chemicals and toxins used to produce it. 

Nostalgia has caused some of these vintage Tupperware containers to become popular, but some may not realize the potential danger.

If you come across some of this vintage Tupperware, it’s best to avoid it just in case. 

What To Do With Old Tupperware

Just because your Tupperware is too old to store food in anymore doesn’t mean you have to get rid of it. You can use it to store tools, utensils, or art supplies, depending on your needs. 

Larger pieces of Tupperware are perfect to hold your compost to use in your home garden. The airtight lids will help stop any unwanted smells from taking over your kitchen. 

If you can’t save these pieces for another use, you can check with your city refuse department to see if they’re recyclable.

Most of these plastics are recyclable, but there may be a special way to dispose of them. 

You can also check with the Tupperware manufacturer to see if they have a recycling program.

Some of these manufacturers will take back old containers to recycle them for you. They may even replace your items for you!

How To Extend The Life Of  Your Tupperware

Tupperware is an investment, and it isn’t a very cheap one. It’s important to take good care of it so you can get the most out of your Tupperware. 

Make sure you always store it at room temperature away from high heat or moisture. Always handwash your Tupperware instead of using the dishwasher, as this can cause cracks to form.

While Tupperware is made without BPA, they could still seep harmful chemicals when used in the microwave.

If you’re unsure if it can be used in the microwave, most plastics will have a microwave symbol on the bottom.  

In addition, Tupperware should never go straight from the freezer to the microwave. The abrupt temperature change could cause damage to your Tupperware. 

To learn more about using Tupperware in the freezer, check out this article

As long as you follow these steps, you should get at least 10 years out of your Tupperware! 

Alternatives To Plastic Tupperware

We live in a plastic world, and it’s hard to cut plastic out of our everyday lives. But there are many options available to cut back on our plastic waste.

Check out these Tupperware alternatives to help reduce your waste! 

Glass Storage Containers

Glass is becoming a popular alternative to plastic Tupperware. Though, beware that most of these options come with plastic lids, so the risk of plastic use is the same. 

While more expensive, you can find glass containers with wooden or bamboo lids, which eliminates plastic completely.

Glass Canning Jars

Canning jars are a classic way to store food. They come in many different sizes and are easy to sterilize before use.

Glass canning jars can also double as drinkware, dry food containers, and planters – I love their versatility!

Silicone

Silicone is becoming a popular alternative to plastic in many ways, including its food storage capabilities. It is flexible, easy to clean, and can even be used to safely bake with.

Stainless Steel

With stainless steel containers, you can easily transfer leftovers for an easy lunch. The downside is that they aren’t microwave safe, but they are virtually unbreakable. Learn more about stainless steel containers in this article

Final Thoughts

The answer is simple, you should not use old Tupperware to store your food. It’s important to check that your Tupperware is BPA-free before using it and make sure it’s made from safe plastic. 

As long as your Tupperware is safe to use and you take good care of it, you can make it last for a long time.

Be sure to inspect it from time to time and dispose of any pieces that may be damaged. 

The most important thing is to keep you and your family safe. While old Tupperware shouldn’t be used for food storage, there are many options available to keep your food fresh! 

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