A side of plastic?
The ongoing debate among government regulatory agencies, advocacy groups, research scientists and the chemical industry about bisphenol A (BPA), a hormone-disrupting plastic widely used in food packaging, is not that bits of the plastic are routinely transferred from bottles, lined cans and boxes into the foods they are designed to contain. The chemical’s presence in the bloodstreams of almost all Americans is equally undisputed. What remains to be determined is how much BPA our bodies can tolerate before it becomes a serious health hazard.
The danger to fetuses, infants and young children was sufficiently clear that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the use of BPA in plastic baby bottles and drinking cups for children in 2012. While we wait for definitive evidence of the health effects of BPA on adults, there are some simple steps you can take to reduce the amount of plastic in your food (and your body): • Eat less processed and canned food; go for fresh and frozen foods when possible. Fatty, salty and acidic foods (like tomatoes and citrus) leech the most plastic. • Choose soups, sauces and other prepared foods packed in glass or waxed cardboard cartons. • Look for canned food labeled BPA-free. For a list of companies and brands that have removed BPA from their cans (and those that have not), go to www.ewg.org/ research/bpa-canned-food. • Avoid food packed in plastic that’s designed to be microwaved or boiled. (High heat increases the amount of plastic transferred to the food.) • Down fewer canned drinks (such as colas and alcoholic beverages). • Breastfeed or use powdered formula for babies. Use glass baby bottles. • Avoid buying anything in plastic containers made from polycarbonate (marked with the number 7 or the letters PC). • Store food in glass or Pyrex containers. • Don’t put plastic containers in the microwave. Hand-wash them in medium-hot water and throw them out when they get scratched or worn. • Don’t buy water in plastic bottles; use glass or unlined stainless steel bottles you can fill yourself. • Carry your own glass or unlined stainless steel coffee cup to the coffee shop.