Food
Find Safe Plastics to Store Your Family’s Food!

Find Safe Plastics to Store Your Family’s Food!

February 22, 2013

It’s easier than you think to find safer plastics & reduce your kid’s exposure to chemicals in plastic-packaged foods.

Plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic-lined cans – it’s tough to find a food that isn’t packaged in plastic. Yet, what leaches out of the packaging and into our food is often an overlooked component of food safety.

According to Emily Barrett at Environmental Health News:

Among the many toxic chemicals that can migrate from packaging into food are the endocrine disrupting phthalates and organotins and the carcinogen benzophenone. These compounds are heavily used in food packaging and have known health effects, yet are not routinely tested or regulated in food.

A number of other notable regulatory flaws include not testing mixtures and a lack of understanding of different effects on different populations – from children to developing fetus to adults to the elderly.

Printing, ink, adhesives, recycled cardboard and the plastic containers can all introduce unwanted chemicals into a single food product, creating a mix with additive or synergistic effects. What’s more, the chemicals may degrade over time or form new compounds that migrate into food.

Packaging clearly deserves more attention (and regulation) than it’s getting!

Follow these easy steps to reduce you and your kid’s exposure to chemicals in plastic-packaged foods:

  • Opt for whole, fresh foods. Not only will you reduce your kid’s exposure to contaminants from plastic packaging, you’ll also reduce your exposure to synthetic additives and preservatives found in processed foods (including artificial colors and artificial sweeteners).
  • Make friends with farmers. Learn what’s in season and seek out a local source. Check out this interactive map at Epicurious to find what’s in season in your region and refer to Local Harvest to find farmers and farmers’ markets near you.
  • DIY. Ditch canned, frozen, and boxed entrees and make your own as much as you can.
  • Choose foods packaged in glass.
  • Buy in bulk, whenever possible. It’s the least-packaged option.
  • Choose safer plastics: #1 (PETE), #2 (HDPE), #4 (LDPE), or #5 (PP) whenever plastic cannot be avoided. (Look for the number in the chasing arrows triangle often on the bottom of a product.) These are the safest and most commonly recycled plastics. You can also look for products packaged in plant-based plastics like PLA.
  • Avoid the most toxic plastics: #3 (PVC), #6 (PS), #7 (PC).

In addition to shopping with these things in mind, you can also email manufacturers of food and drink packaged in plastics, indicating your concern about plastics and how they negatively impact our health, our kid’s health, and the health of our environment.