Plastics in Food? Yuck.

Top of plastic bottle

Plastics in Food? Yuck.

Plastics are the most widely used packaging material in North America.

You know those plastic wraps and plastic containers we use to wrap and store our food? Well, unfortunately they contain toxins that often find their way into our food. Evidence now tells us that chemicals used in making and treating plastics we wrap and bottle our foods in could be carcinogenic, hormone altering and possibly, for some, a cause of allergic reactions. Allergic reactions can range from skin irritation to breathing problems.

Plastics in Food? Yuck.
Plastics in Food? Yuck.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are closely watch these items for some of these chemicals. In animal studies, results demonstrate plasticizers are harmful to pregnant mice and the babies. However, there are no conclusive long-term studies on the effects of plastics in food on humans.

The plastics in foods are plasticizers, which soften hard plastic. PVC (polyvinyl chloride), is one. It is a hard plastic. Plus there are others. One plasticizer, bisphenol-A (BPA), linked to genetic abnormalities in mice. Exposure created hormonal imbalances which resulted in spontaneous abortion in female mice and decreased sperm counts in males.

Since evidence of damage to humans is still under scrutiny, it doesn’t hurt to practice caution with your plastic usage. For example, plastics in food are degraded a plastics. The more degraded, the higher the chance it will make its way into our foods. Degrading occurs when plastic is exposed to high heat or harsh soaps or is used repeatedly. In other words, don’t wash and re-use.

Plastic in Foods: Pointers

Be wary of:

  • Vinyl or PVC.
  • Polystyrene (PS).
  • Polycarbonate (PC).

These plastics are most frequently found in cling wraps, bottles that store cooking oils and some water bottles. Plastic cups and bowls and opaque plastic cutlery contain polystyrene. Polycarbonate is found in clear plastic baby bottles, 5-gallon water jugs, clear plastic “sippy” cups for babies and clear plastic cutlery.

There may also be unknown plastic ingredients in all of the above products.

Some experts who believe plastic contain toxins say “beware“, because all studies that tell us plastics are perfectly safe have been conveniently conducted by the plastic industry, thereby skewed. Is this true? We hope not, but the sad truth is, deception is happening in just about every industry imaginable these days.

Suggestions

  • Use your plastics with care and don’t re-use any of them.
  • Don’t believe every “study” that comes out – one could cause you to panic while one will mislead you into a false sense of security. Trust your own instincts, logic and reason.
  • Alleviate concern and use glass containers for food storage.

See also: Eye on Home Food Safety

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Author: Jeni

Certified by the Professional School of Fitness and Nutrition in March, 1995; honored for exemplary grades. Practicing fitness and nutrition for over 20 years. Featured in the Feb. 1994 issue of "Shape" magazine. Featured in Collage in the spring issue of 1995 Low fat recipe's published in Taste of Home, Quick Cooking, and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, among others. September, 2001: Featured in "Winning The War on Cholesterol" By Rodale Publishing

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