Thanksgiving Dinners Put Plastics to the Test


Perhaps the most celebrated meal in America, today’s lavish Thanksgiving dinner is a world away from the famous feast shared by the pilgrims and Native-Americans almost 400 years ago.

Fortunately, today we have access to a wide range of innovative plastic products that make Thanksgiving dinner easier to manage, and more importantly, can help make it safer to consume.

Before the meal

It all begins with the strong plastic packaging wrapped around the turkey in the grocery store. Usually made of ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), this plastic helps keep the bird clean and protects it from coming into contact with harmful bacteria. It can also help keep the turkey’s juices from contaminating other foods in your shopping cart or refrigerator at home.

Many people also depend on:

  • plastic cutting boards: because when used and washed properly in the dishwasher, they can reduce the chances of spreading bacteria (According to the USDA and FDA, plastic cutting boards are preferable to wood because cuts in wooden boards can harbor bacteria.)
  • plastic cooking utensils: because other utensils may scratch non-stick cookware
  • plastic mixing bowls, measuring cups, etc.: because they are lightweight, flexible, and shatter-resistant

During the meal

Plastic tablecloths on “kids’ tables” can help protect expensive furniture from damaging spills and gashes. Because they can be wiped off quickly with little effort, plastic tablecloths make cleaning up a breeze. Many families also depend on plastic plates, cups, and eating utensils to accommodate large Thanksgiving get-togethers and help minimize clean up.

After the meal

While many of us curl up on comfortable couches to nap or watch football after the big meal, others get stuck clearing the table and dealing with the leftovers. Plastic food storage containers, wraps, and bags help to make this grueling task a little easier.

Consider a few of the many plastic products used after the meal to help keep food fresh:

  • Reusable plastic containers: available in all shapes and sizes to store everything from stuffing to cranberry sauce. Many indicate they can be used in microwaves for reheating. Always check the container to see if it is marked for use in the microwave. (Oxygen is a major cause of food spoilage and vitamin loss, so always close the lids on your plastic containers tightly – except during microwave use.)
  • Plastic freezer bags: pre-printed labels make it easy to record your own use-by dates. (Turkey can stay fresh for up to six months in the freezer, but only three or four days in the refrigerator.)
  • Plastic wrap: great for covering those creamy pumpkin pies and reheating leftovers. Plastic wrap designed for the microwave can be used to retain moisture during microwave reheating. Check the manufacturer’s label for instructions on proper microwave use.

Helping to keep traditions alive

We may not hunt our own birds like the pilgrims did, but many Americans continue to prepare the turkey with “all the traditional trimmings” in recognition of that famous Thanksgiving meal. Plastics are helping to keep this special tradition alive by saving time, reducing holiday waste, and helping to make our meals fresh and safe.

Learn more about Plastics and Food Safety.