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CHICAGO — Polycarbonate has come to the plastic food storage container, as Rubbermaid Inc. introduced a covered bowl with special vented lid that can go straight from freezer to microwave to dining room table.

The Rubbermaid Intellivent container was introduced last week at the International Housewares Show in Chicago. Traditionally, such containers have been made of polypropylene.

The Rubbermaid product is similar to Tupperware Corp.'s Rock 'N Serve storage containers introduced last year.

Intellivent, with a suggested retail price from $4.99-$8.99, is more expensive than standard leftover containers, thanks in part to the pricey PC resin. But Rubbermaid officials said the material's clarity and quality appearance give Intellivent unique performance characteristics that make it worth the price.

``It's a lot more resistant to staining and temperature impact,'' Piyush Vakil, manager of product development and engineering, said in a Jan. 14 interview at Rubbermaid's booth.

Rubbermaid has patented the silicon, bi-directional valve in the middle of the PP lid, Vakil said. The lid stays on during microwave heating. As food heats, the valve allows steam to escape. After heating, the vent equalizes pressure, making the lid easy to remove.

The PC base also can be used as a serving bowl, or even a salad bowl. The bowl comes in sizes ranging from one pint to 3.5 quarts. Lids come in Rubbermaid's EuroBlue color.

Orlando, Fla.-based Tupperware, which did not exhibit at the Housewares Show, used GE Plastics' Lexan polycarbonate in its Rock 'N Serve line. The firm touted the product for its ability to withstand extreme temperatures, from the freezer to the microwave.