With a long-standing history of usage in India, stainless steel containers have been the norm when it comes to carrying or storing food. Even at-home dishware such as glasses and plates are often stainless steel, characterized by the classic thali that we see in Indian restaurants. Unlike in the West where Tupperware is popular and most common, stainless steel provides benefits that far outweigh plastic.
I chatted with Nita Tandon, founder of Dalcini Stainless , to get the inside scoop about stainless steel, all of its incredible benefits, and why it’s a much safer and eco option for food storage. This Canadian brand was founded when Nita was searching for a non-toxic alternative when packing her kids’ lunches. Back in 2009, the same year Nita left her career in pharmaceuticals to become a mom, Health Canada issued a ban on BPA (Bisphenol A) in baby bottles, and also declared “BPA a toxic substance to human health and the environment”. The ban didn’t include lunch containers or food storage boxes. Many containers labelled “BPA-free” were merely substituting one hormone-mimicking chemical for another, not being any safer than BPA at all. Wanting a healthier option, in 2015, Nita decided to create a non-hormone-disrupting solution for both kids and adults.
Her desire to provide a safe alternative also went hand in hand with her frustration at finding her drawers cluttered with plastic containers that were warped, stained and odorous. She wanted to find an easy-to-use, easy-to-clean and easy-to-store solution, one that looks good, is good for us, and that is good for the environment. Turning to her Indian roots, she founded Dalcini Stainless.
So why is stainless steel so much better?
Stainless steel doesn’t absorb bacteria nor does it leach chemicals, so storing your food in a stainless steel container can give you peace of mind when it comes to your health.
Stainless steel is non-staining and non-porous. Even the most fragrant of foods and the most colourful (tomato sauce doesn’t have to be the bane of your existence anymore) can be stored in a stainless steel container, without any evidence they were there after one single wash. These containers are refrigerator safe, making them a great option for leftovers or lunches. While they can’t be used in a microwave, they can go into an oven up to 450 degrees F.
These products are also dishwasher safe (not all stainless steel containers are, but Dalcini Stainless are all dishwasher safe), as Nita wanted to create a product that was easy to use and hassle-free! Stainless steel is available in a range of grades. You can just as easily buy a stainless steel container from the dollar store, as you can from a higher end shop. The difference is in the make up of metals. Rather than a pure raw metal, stainless steel is an alloy, meaning it’s a mix of metals. The grade and therefore quality of stainless steel depends on the mix of metals it contains. Dalcini Stainless contains between 8%-10% nickel, which is what helps prevent it from rusting. This non-corroding property means you don’t have to worry that your containers will get rusty after just a few months.
Stainless steel is non-porous, meaning it prevents contamination and is why it is used so commonly in commercial kitchens and hospitals. This grade of stainless steel is the same grade that Dalcini uses. High-grade stainless steel also maintains food freshness when stored in an air-tight container. This prolongs the lifespan of your food, and prevents decay and therefore, wastage. It is also inert to alkalis and acids that can sometimes be produced by certain foods and vegetables, unlike plastic containers.
Dalcini Stainless has specifically manufactured their containers to be seamless and without any tight corners. When there are seams in stainless steel, they must be joined using chemical adhesives. An epoxy resin is applied to prevent the food from coming in contact with the chemical adhesive. All of these chemicals, as you can imagine, contain things like lead, BPA, and other hormone-disruptors. Having a seamless design means that these containers are chemical and resin-free, as well as non-ridged, so bacteria has nowhere to hide.
As a metal, it is known for its strength and doesn’t crack, break or pit easily, giving you years of usage. While some may argue that their Tupperware has lasted them years, we do want to stress the health side of things. With plastic, the integrity of the material begins to break down immediately upon washing, further lowering the quality with each wash. When heated (and this is applicable to dishwashers and hot food, not just the microwave), the plastic container leaches 55 times faster! Any lurking endocrine-disruptors and chemicals are therefore seeping into your food. This really makes us think about the etymology of disease and why India, a country that relied heavily on stainless steel for years, was relatively cancer-free until modernity took over.
Using stainless steel containers not only saves you money, time and your health woes, but it prevents more plastic waste from entering into landfill and the oceans, as the containers will last you years to come. Because these containers are BPA-free, don’t contain any silicone or plastic parts, or any chemical resins, they are not just 100% reusable, but also 100% recyclable for when you are through with them. Aluminum, along with stainless steel is infinitely recyclable. 75% of the tin cans and stainless steel products produced in the last 100 years are still in circulation! Knowing that your food container won’t be going to landfill is a huge added bonus!
Having been a long-standing traditional practice in India, Dalcini Stainless manufactures all of their products ethically, in India. This skilled craftsmanship has been used for over 200 years, and Dalcini ensures that no child-labour is used in their production. The containers are made without lead or aluminum, and contain no hormone-disrupting chemicals whatsoever.
We are often so focused on what we’re putting in our bodies – all the organic, health food we could want, but we don’t always think about HOW we’re storing that food. If chemicals and toxins leach into our organic produce and meals, it negates the purpose of buying that food in the first place. Creating a conscious and holistic kitchen includes how we store our food.
We don’t suggest that you throw out all the usable containers that you do currently have. Use what you have first (as long as it’s BPA and chemical-free), and then consider switching to a sustainable and healthier option, like Dalcini Stainless!