There are a myriad of household items that harbor a ton of bacteria. Kitchen sponges, bathroom towels, and toothbrushes, just to name a few. But there's one common good that doesn't get nearly as much bad PR as the rest. That bacterial vessel that goes undetected? Food storage containers. In addition to food stains and foul odors, food storage containers are more susceptible to bacterial growth, according to Kate Reeder, MCN, RDN, LDN, a registered dietitian and ServSafe Certified Instructor and Proctor at Elite Food Safety Training.
"This [bacterial growth] can happen when storage containers have hard-to-get-to spots, such as crevices in lids and narrow lips around the edges of containers," says Reeder. Harder-to-reach crevices and corners may be harder to clean, leaving those areas vulnerable for bacteria to proliferate. Additionally, the material of the food storage containers can predispose not-so-good microorganisms to lurk.
"Plastic is a porous material, meaning that it actually has super tiny holes in it, which allow particles to pass through and be absorbed," Reeder adds. These small, narrow places can make it difficult to clean, cooking up the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. Since glass is nonporous, bacteria will have a harder time sticking around.
We tapped an RD for their input and what to look for in a bacteria-resistant food storage container. Here are six containers that prevent bacteria from playing Dance Dance Revolution with your food.
Snacks, soups, fruit, or larger meals—these Bayco Glass Food Storage Containers hold it all. This 24-piece set comes with four rectangular containers, four square containers, and four round containers of varying sizes, all of which are easy to clean thanks to the glass material. “I like that the seals in the lids come out, so you can easily clean what would be a tricky place to get otherwise,” says Reeder.
Safe with: dishwasher, oven, microwave, freezer
This six-piece glass food storage set will give you piece of mind during a busy week. Reeder recommends these containers because the lids don’t have any tiny or small areas that are difficult to clean, so you don’t have to worry about bacteria playing hide-and-seek whenever you’re hitting the sink. Featuring a two-cup, four-cup, and seven-cup containers, the set is ideal for meal prepping or stowing away leftovers so all of your yummy bites don’t go to waste.
Safe with: dishwasher, microwave, freezer
Take meal prep to the next level with Caraway’s Glass Food Storage Set. Not only do these containers store and keep food fresh, they’re extremely easy to clean. Coated with ceramic, these containers will ensure that food slides right off. Included are one large container, two medium containers, two small containers, straps, and dash inserts, so you’ll have enough containers to meal prep or store leftovers. It also helps that the containers are free of BPA and PFAS, and they have a bento-like style (cool kid lunch, incoming).
Safe with: dishwasher, oven, microwave, freezer (lids and inserts are not microwave safe, according to the brand)
It’s no secret that Pyrex makes some of the most durable, easy-to-clean containers, and this set is no exception to those standards. Made of nonporous glass, these rectangular storage containers aren’t going to stow away bacteria, and the lids are extremely easy to clean. We love that this set of four doesn’t absorb any odors (leftover pasta stains, no more). What’s more, this set is dishwasher-, preheated oven-, microwave, and fridge-safe.
Safe with: dishwasher, preheated oven, microwave, freezer, fridge
For larger meals or leftovers from a party, Pyrex’s Ribbed Bowl set sure comes in handy. Made of nonporous glass, these containers won’t absorb odors or trap bacteria. What also makes them great for storing leftovers are the easy-to-scrub lids. They don’t trap pesky microorganism, so you don’t have to worry about bacteria partying with your food. Best of all, all of the containers are oven-, microwave-, and top rack-dishwasher safe.
Safe with: dishwasher (top rack only), oven, microwave
If you’re not ready to commit to glass containers (which can be pricey), Reeder recommends this 44-piece set. “They are plastic; however, I love that they’re dishwasher safe and overall relatively easy to clean,” says Reeder. What’s inside? You’ll get 16 sets of eight-ounce containers, 16 sets of 16-ounce containers, 12 sets of 32-ounce containers, and lids that are interchangeable, so you can pack up soups, salads, condiments, fruit, snacks, meals, and more. This is especially great if you need plastic containers (or something more affordable) to give guests leftovers and not worry about getting them back.
Safe with: microwave, freezer, dishwasher
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