Are we unwittingly poisoning ourselves with food and drinks in our own homes? Earlier this year the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) released a statement saying “There is officially cause for concern about toxic Bisphenol-A (BPA) in food and beverage containers,” but stopped short of banning BPA from products that children and pregnant and nursing women use everyday(1).
This chemical, which is a known carcinogen has permeated every area of our lives. BPA’s have been used since the 1960s in everything from the water bottles we use daily, to the lining in metal cans of food we pop open for lunch or dinner, to our babies pacifiers and toys. It is reported that 93 percent of Americans have detectable levels of BPA in their systems, and has been blamed for early onset puberty, soft tissue cancers, the rise in Alzheimer’s, and infertility. A recent Readers Digest article reports that men in particular who show high levels of BPA’s are at risk for Cardiovascular disease(2).
Where is this exposure coming from? Sadly, nearly everywhere! The linings of metal food cans,which may leach into your foods and beverages, many hard plastic items such as cups, plates, silverware, and food storage containers, as well as the aforementioned toys, pacifiers, and baby bottles. With the FDA advising consumers to reduce their exposure to BPA’s, many companies who supply food products and baby products have made an effort to remove these harmful chemicals from their containers and products.
How can we avoid unnecessary exposure to this very harmful chemical? The FDA has suggested several ways to eliminate or reduce your exposure to BPA’s. Look for juice, sauces, soups etc. in glass containers or cartons, or use fresh or frozen instead of canned. Throw away your old bottles! New bottles are much less likely to contain BPA, now that the dangers are known. Heat your food in glass containers, not plastic! High temperatures speed up the release of BPA’s and transfer to your food, and most important of all, know your numbers! Containers made of plastic are marked with recycling codes. Numbers 3 and 7 MAY contain BPA’s. Containers marked with 1,2,4, 5, or 6 rarely do.
A cheaper alternative to going out and buying all glass containers for drinks, food storage, and heating foods are to buy your food in a container made of glass, which is then reusable for all types of things; storage, heating, etc.
Always remember, as a consumer, be aware and be safe!
Footnotes and Sources:
1. The New York Times, FDA Concerned about Substance in Food Packaging & New FDA Recommendations on BPA.
2. Readers Digest, May 2010.