Beeswax wraps are marketed as a greener alternative to single-use cling film.
The wax-infused cloths are reusable and mouldable, so even odd-shaped foods can be wrapped. And, if cared for properly, they can last for months, which helps justify the $12 outlay (the average cost for a medium-sized wrap).
As the wraps are used to cover food, it’s fair enough to assume they’re hygienic. However, they can’t be washed vigorously or in hot water, so there’s a risk they could become contaminated with pathogens.
What we did
We sent two wraps to a laboratory to be tested for mould and bacteria. One wrap had been used once to wrap a tuna sandwich; the other had been used for about six months. Even though we’d followed the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter, our tests showed both wraps harboured potential nasties.
Our tests didn’t measure the amount of bacteria (the higher the count, the higher your chances of getting ill), but they did indicate the well-used wrap had much greater microbial populations than the wrap that had been used just once.
There are simple alternatives to beeswax wraps if you want to ditch cling film. Consider repurposing a cloth serviette or other piece of fabric that can be washed at high temperatures.
If you’re using a beeswax wrap, wash it in cold, soapy water or wipe it down with a damp cloth. Allow it to air dry, then store it in a cool, dry place.
Don’t use the wraps to cover raw meat, food for infants or food for the immunocompromised.
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