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Can paper grocery bags be safely used as a cooking container?

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The same rule of thumb applies as above - "if it was not made for food storage or use, then do not use it for food." Paper grocery bags should not be used as a cooking container because 1) the bag may not be sanitary 2) the glue and ink used on the bag have not been approved for contact with food and may give off toxic fumes when heated and 3) the bag may become saturated with fat or liquid during cooking or may break, thus spilling hot contents in the oven (risk of fire) or on you (risk of burns) 4) many grocery bags are made of recycled paper which may contain lead which could contaminate the food. A paper bag covered with several layers of paper towels may be used to absorb fat as you drain fried foods. Choose the side of the bag that does not contain any lettering as the one against the paper towels. Paper bags should not be placed in the microwave oven. They may contain metal fragments that could shorten the life of the magnetron tube or they could ignite if they become hot enough.

PREPARED BY: Angela M. Fraser, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Food Safety Specialist, and Carolyn J. Lackey, Ph.D., R.D., L.D.N., Professor/Food and Nutrition Specialist, North Carolina State University (August 2004)

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