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Buttonstc's avatar

If you buy takeout rotisserie chicken, which type of container does the market use? Do you have a preference or doesn't it matter? (details)

Asked by Buttonstc (27597points) May 11th, 2016

The two types of containers which I’ve seen used are the hard plastic black bottom with clear domed lid or more recently food safe plastic zip top bags.

I’m curious about what your experience has been with either type. One of the markets around here recently switched to a different type and I’m not liking it at all.

I’m not going to say right away which type since I’d like to hear others opinions first and don’t want to influence the results.

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29 Answers

dxs's avatar

They have the black plastic bottoms with the clear plastic dome lids. I figure the other ones, like most plastic zip things, won’t zip well.

jca's avatar

I’ve only ever purchased this kind of chicken in the hard plastic containers with the black bottom. Usually I will find another bag, like the clear bags that fruit and vegetables come in, and put the hard plastic case into the bag, and then another bag in the opposite direction to prevent leaks.

Buttonstc's avatar


Interestingly enough, I’ve had the opposite problem. Those bags seal so well that it’s nigh impossible to pry them apart without half destroying them.

And this is especially so after the first time it’s opened. The outside of the bag (and my fingers sometimes) are a little greasy and it’s impossible to get a decent grip in order to pry the two halves apart :)

I’ve actually had to resort to finding some scissors to cut them open but that kind of defeats the original purpose ha ha.

Cruiser's avatar

I have to ask what in your estimation makes one container safer over the other??? I work in and around plastics and would love to know your answer/reasoning to this.

zenvelo's avatar

I haven’t seen the zip loc type bag for rotisserie chicken, just the black botto/clear top two piece container.

My preference would be the old fashioned keep-warm bag with the foil lining. The plastic containers, and also the aluminum foil pans with plastic wrap stretched over everything, spill chicken juice when you least expect it.

Buttonstc's avatar


I’m glad you weighed in here because I remember your comments in the mattress thread and I know you’re knowledgeable about this.

So, I’ll tip my hand a little early. It seems that everyone replying so far has not had to deal with the zip lock bags and I was curious to see if their experience was similar to mine if they had ever gotten one in a bag.

So, while neither container is ideal, in my opinion, I’m assuming that the black plastic with clear dome lid is preferable.

My reasoning is thus. I’ve constantly read warnings regarding NOT using margarine tubs and similar softer plastics to reheat anything in a microwave because the soft plastics contain an additive to keep them more pliable which the harder plastics don’t. Therefore the softer plastics are less stable and more apt to leech chemical compounds into the food.

(Actually, for microwave, I only use either glass or ceramic. I never use plastic in a microwave.) Since I’m home and have control over which containers to use, it makes no sense to me to use plastic in a microwave at all.

But back to the chicken. The market where I frequently got my chickens from just recently switched over to the plastic bags in place of the harder plastic container for their own brand of chicken.

I was starving so I reluctantly bought one. The next day when dealing with the leftovers and the juice (now congealed) I noticed that it had an off taste. Rather chemical in nature and what I imagine plastic would taste like if you were to eat it.

So, that’s the last time I will deal with the plastic bag chickens. I spoke to one of the asst mgrs and he spouted off the usual assurances of how safe it is bla bla bla. I’m sure that’s what the company making them says, but I’m just not buying it (literally not buying it.)

When those chickens go straight from the rotisserie into those bags, they are blazing hot. So, that’s a whole different scenario from putting a cold sandwich into plastic. I’m assuming that initially those chickens are even hotter than they would be in a microwave. And those plastic bags are obviously made from softer plastic.

With your knowledge of plastics do you think that the usual hard plastic ones are equally bad?

I’d be interested in your take on the situation.

And if you can point me to some links containing data which might help sway the opinions of the powers that be at that market that would be terrific. I haven’t yet given up hope on trying to get them away from the plastic bags.

AshlynM's avatar

I have seen and bought both types. I really haven’t noticed a difference in taste.
My store usually puts out the hard plastic containers, but they will occasionally have the bags. I think the plastic bags are easier to deal with. Not only does it have a nice handle, you open it in one motion and just throw it away without hassle. The hard containers take up too much space in the trash.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Ours come in the zip locked back. I’m fine with that. I don’t find them hard to open and I feel there’s less plastic to go in the rubbish. And I can reseal the bag. We rarely eat the whole chicken.

ibstubro's avatar

I do not buy rotisserie chicken – disclaimer.

That said, I hate those plastic zip bags for hot deli foods.
Occasionally I buy deep fried fish fillets from the deli, and if they’re put in the plastic zip bag there will be condensation in the bag by the time I get to the car. Any part of my hand I put in the bag to get at the fish comes out wet, and if I wait until I get home the the fish coating will be starting to sog and come off.
I prefer they break the fish into chunks, if necessary, and fit it into a ‘go box’.

As a side note, I find that easily 75–85% of those ‘zip’ closures put on retail foods are useless to me. Either they don’t open properly, or the portions in the bag don’t warrant the feature.
I worked in a factory where food was packaged, and the zip closures are a considerable added expense in materials and labor. The packaging manufacturers have some hellatious salesmen and the decision makers are, by-and-large, divorced from the actual retail purchasing.

Cruiser's avatar

@Buttonstc I do manufacture epoxy adhesives and coatings. Good ol BPA is familiar to most because of the press it has received over links to cancer and birth defects. BPA is only part of the equation as is the case with all other form of plastics and polymers. Plastics are made from a myriad of chemicals and finished plastics are all formulated with many other chemical additives to achieve the desired physical properties.

Since your question here is about a store bought (consumer) food item I will focus my answer on the type of plastic you referenced. I will say this much that the plastics used to contain food are considered safe and much testing will back these claims up. One thing to be aware of, is the original intended use of that plastic bag or container. That is where the “considered safe” for that use is the key component to my answer here.

People may assume that bag or container must be safe or they would let food producers use them so it should be safe if I reuse that container or worse reheat foods in that container. Almost all plastics contain additives that allow for plastic to be flexible and resist cracking and breaking. This is where things get hinky even hazardous to us the consumer.

To make a plastic strong and flexible will involve plastisizers and often phenols. Phenols are BAD and bad to consume. Again plastic formulators have to navigate the choppy waters of the FDA to get their plastic approved. With my knowledge I honestly question the testing rules and regulations that allow any plastic to be approved period because over the life expectancy of the plastic it will break down and why reuse of containers is largely a not good idea. Again it is the additives that will contribute the greater hazards we potentially can and are exposed to and gets infinitely worse when that container is exposed to heat. As far as the store cooked chicken containers they are expressly intended to get the cooked chicken from the store to your table top. That is they have a less than 12 hour intended use. So to put the chicken in the package in your fridge for tomorrows supper and worse reheat it in the microwave is breaking all the intended use rules.

Not all plastics are created equally and rules of caution will vary greatly between the various plastics in use as will the quality of the plastic. All I can say is know your plastics. Familiarize your self with the little triangles on the plastic container and follow the rules for its intended use and method of recycling and your should be OK. That is easy to say today as over the years the rules have changed and will continue to change as time tells a different story than the research told when the plastic formula was developed.

Here is a nice link to learn more about the different types of food grade plastics and here is another link that gives more detailed information of the different types of food grade plastics.

My bottom line is store your foods in glass or name brand high quality storage containers made to store food. Do not reuse containers from other foods…foam containers are the worst offenders and again never reheat anything in plastic. These are my own opinions formed from years of learning and using various chemicals used to make my plastics.

Jak's avatar

@cruiser. I heard that anything plastic can be made from hemp. Would you use hemp in your products if it were legal? Why or why not?

Cruiser's avatar

@Jak I am on the hunt for plant based epoxies and curatives. They are out there but not yet in the chemistries I need and 10 x’s more expensive. So far they are cost prohibitive. I would not be averse to trying hemp based epoxies if they become available. I here they are making good progress on soy based epoxy resins but they have to scale up production to meet the anticipated demand.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Here, they use either the hard black + clear plastic design, or bags that are foil on the inside, paper on the outside. I’ve never, ever seen rotisserie chicken come in a plastic bag – how does it not melt? It sounds like a terrible idea.

My preference would be for the first option, because it’s reusable and recyclable.

Buttonstc's avatar


You wrote “how does it not melt? I think that’s a terrible idea”

My sentiments exactly. Altho I don’t think that noticeable literal melting and changing shape would permit them to pass govt regulations.

But with those high temps, I can’t help but think that some of that plastic leeches into the food.

Buttonstc's avatar


I much appreciate the info links. I don’t know if that’s going to sway the decision makers to ditch the plastic bags but…

Come to think of it, I don’t even know if there is any number printed on those bags to enable identifying which type of plastic it is. Im certainly not going to buy another one just so I can check :)

I also noticed what you said about questioning the testing standards which allow these to pass muster for foods at such blazing hot temps. I just find it inconceivable that it would have no adverse effect whatsoever.

Anyhow, I’m still boycotting the bags. Thanks for the info.

Buttonstc's avatar


Yes, the moisture condensation affects the chicken as well. Forget about crispy skin.

And I hate having my hands not just wet, but greasy as well. UUGGHH

Buttonstc's avatar


I like the foil lined bags also. If I remember correctly, that’s what Boston Market used for their chickens.

I don’t know whether they currently do that as its been quite a while since I’ve been in one.

There just aren’t any within reasonable driving distance from me currently. Too bad.

Cruiser's avatar

@Buttonstc The info I provided was essentially to illustrate you are damned it you do….You do have choices and they typically come with added inconvenience and lots of dish washing….something express packaging was developed to mitigate.

Buttonstc's avatar


I don’t really mind some dishwashing since I’m already in the firm habit of glass or ceramic for microwave heating.

And actually, I don’t usually reheat the chicken. I try to get home in time to enjoy it while still warm and the leftovers end up as sandwiches usually.

But unless it’s Boston Market, there is really not any non plastic choice for rotisserie chicken at this time.

But I haven’t really had any adverse experience or taste with the hard plastic containers so I’ll continue to insist upon them rather than the bags.

JLeslie's avatar

I’ve dealt with both, and with those two options I prefer the plastic container with the dome top to the ziploc bag. However, I do worry about plastics and foods, so I prefer the lines bags @zenvelo mentioned, but I’m pretty sure those are not recyclable, which is a negative. Although, I think most take out containers don’t get recycled probably. I would guess the only recyclable we have mentioned here is the black and clear plastic containers.

My real preference would be for the store to let the chicken cool down to room temp before packaging and put it in the black and clear plastic container, and then sell it. It probably would need to be refrigerated in some cases, because room temp is a health code no no for more than a short time. I’m fine to reheat it at home. It’s the “hot” chicken in the plastic that troubles me most. I still buy it, but not very often.

jca's avatar

@JLeslie: Cooling the chicken down might be an alternative but that would defeat the purpose for why the majority of people buy it. They buy it so they can walk in the door with a hot meal (or the majority of a hot meal, just cook a veg and/or starch).

JLeslie's avatar

@jca I buy so I don’t have to deal with seasoning and cooking a raw chicken. Reheating in a microwave only takes a minute. For me, it’s not an inconvenience to heat it up while getting my side dishes ready. What I suggested isn’t practical for a fast food place like Boston Market, because everything is hot for customers who eat in, but at a supermarket they could do it maybe?

Cruiser's avatar

@Buttonstc I would agree the plastic container to be the better option as there is much less direct contact with the chicken.

ibstubro's avatar

No, sorry, @JLeslie.
Reheated in a microwave bears no resemblance to heated through.

The essence of food kept warm from the oven can’t be duplicated in a short time.

Buttonstc's avatar


While that might work for you, I guarantee that if they sold it “cooled down” I certainly wouldn’t buy it and neither would a lot of other people.

Besides, if they use the hard plastic containers, the only part really touching the plastic is the bottom of the chicken anyhow (and how many people eat that) so there is not really a genuine need to cool it down.

As @jca pointed out, when you get home, it’s hot and ready to eat then and there with a few side additions like bread and veggies.

Besides, if you miscalculate and microwave it a few seconds too long, you’re now eating chicken with the texture of a rubber band.

Kroger sells a lot of their pre-cooked chicken this way (cooled) especially their fried chicken, plus they chop it up into pieces so all the juiciness is lost. YUKKL

Plus, they use those execrable bags to put the pieces in. Even tho they are the closest store to me (less than 2 miles, literally right around the corner) guess who never buys takeout Kroger chicken? Yup. Doesn’t matter how hungry I am.

I’d just as soon drive a few extra miles for the good stuff even if it’s 10+ miles down the highway to Meijers or Sams Club (except that Sams Club uses previously frozen chickens).

Being able to eat it hot out of the oven is the whole joy of rotisserie chicken for me. Nothing else compares. And there’s no way I’m ever going to microwave it. Whatever leftovers I have the next day become sandwiches or chicken salad.

JLeslie's avatar

@Buttonstc Valid point that the part of the chicken touching the plastic isn’t the part mostly being eaten. Although, when I buy Boston Market I buy it cut up. I guess maybe that’s a reason to get it whole, but I’m
Not paranoid enough to bother the 4 times a year I buy it to go.

ibstubro's avatar

Even a casserole, like baked macaroni and cheese, is far superior warm through from the original baking than it is re-heated in a microwave.
Much of the time I’d just as soon eat it cold, once it cools off.

Buttonstc's avatar

There isn’t a BM near me now, but I used to always request that they NOT cut it up.

It loses a lot of the juices when they cut it up and that’s the part I like best.

BTW: I’m not paranoid about the hard plastic containers; just those awful soft plastic bags.

You were the one suggesting they cool it down, not I :)

JLeslie's avatar

@Buttonstc I know I’m the one suggesting the cool down. I do worry about the plastic. I converted to glass containers for storage years ago. Heating plastic even worse. I do admit to eating some frozen food that I heat in plastic though. I’m not religious about it, I just try to cut down on the plastic when possible. As far as chicken and side dishes from supermarkets and BM, I could care less if I eat it reheated, but I know a lot of people are like you and want it hot/fresh from the oven.

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