Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Yummy Plasticky Goodness!


We subscribe to Consumer Reports and the very first article in the newest issue really grabbed me as it is about plastics and I have been increasingly worried (since having children) about the chemicals that leach into our food and beverages from plastic storage containers, baby bottles (I pumped and bottle-fed the twins because of feeding issues) and some of the plastic cups and bowls we have our kids use for meals and sippy cups.

You can read the article here but let me just give you the Cliff's Notes version.

There is a chemical found in many plastics but it is also found in the clear lining of your metal canned foods and soda cans, and is called BPA.

BPA, even in low doses, disrupts your estrogen hormones, and is believed to lead to such things as lowered sperm count, infertility, obesity, and may be a factor leading to schizophrenia. Recent studies have confirmed that bisphenol A exposure during development has carcinogenic effects and produce precursors of breast cancer, among other things. (This info was gleaned here.)

In short, the CR article talks about how there has always been arguments about whether BPA is a cause for concern or not. The EPA has said that 50mg per kilogram of body weight is safe, based on TWO studies it reviewed.

According to Consumer Reports, A 2006 review published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research showed that 119 government funded studies found harmful effects. It found only 11 studies that showed that there were no harmful effects. Each and every one of these studies was funded by the chemical industry! So very recently, an investigation has opened to see if BPA proponents have paid consulting groups to engineer science that reaches predetermined conclusions.

So, and listen up here... Consumer Reports recently went to the FDA and asked which two studies they used to decide how much BPA is safe for us to consume. You guessed it. Both were from among the 11 studies, funded by BPA proponents, saying the stuff is just fine.


(This is straight from the Consumer Reports article)

Identify which containers might have the chemical. Polycarbonate is usually clear rather than cloudy, although it may be colored.

If the container carries a recycling code, it will be marked with the number 7 or the letters “PC,” or both. Number 7 bottles made with BPA-free polyethersulfone (PES) won’t have the PC marking.

Other BPA-free plastic alternatives include polyethylene, which may be marked with recycling codes 1 (PET) or 2 (HDPE), and polypropylene, 5 (PP).

For baby bottles, glass or BPA-free plastics such as polyethylene are the safest choices, as Consumer Reports has advised in the past.

For those who reuse water bottles frequently and want to avoid BPA, consider polyethylene, stainless steel, or aluminum with BPA-free liners.


I also read that baby formula packaging has been found with BPA lining (I am guessing the metal cans). I looked in a can of formula I still have around, and the inside appears to be silver cardboard. I read on a site that the cans of liquid formula is lined with it, just like the soda cans I always drink, and BPA is much worse in infants than in adults.

I looked around my kitchen cupboards and found, thankfully, that most of our plastics are made with BPA-free alternatives, (only a re-usable red water bottle, made in China, similar to the one in the photo on the Consumer Reports page). Maybe some of the American plastics companies are trying hard to switch over. I don't know.

I still want to cut down on my use of plastics and switch to ceramics and such (which are so much homier anyway!) because I don't really trust that we know much of anything about most of the chemicals used to make plastic. But its difficult. I have kids who still throw their plate on the kitchen floor after they have finished eating.

Until then, maybe I should throw out those especially old cans of food in my pantry that I swear I will use someday. And also, I am considering the switch from my beloved Pepsi (yes, I am an addict) in those yummy BPA-lined cans, to the BPA-free (I am guessing) 2 litre bottles.

What's in YOUR pantry?


gpc said...

Yes Yes Yes -- it is time for us to demand that the FDA show some concern for our babies, if not for us! Dangerous plastic is used not only in food but in toys, chemicals that have been outlawed in Europe for a long time but that are still being sold to us. (not to mention the plastic chemicals that we ingest second hand, through our meat and fish and vegetables, all of which now have freaky levels of things we shouldn't be eating) It is frustrating trying to protect your family from all sides while industry seems intent on sabotage just to make a few more dollars. Good for you for raising the question.

Jenna said...

My uncle-in-law is a cancer researcher and has been for many years. He warns that the worst thing you can do with plastic is to heat/re-heat food in your microwave in it. The microwave apparently does things that make even more chemicals leach into the food. He suggested that if we change nothing else in our kitchen that we invest in glass and ceramic containers to microwave food in.

Shama-Lama Mama said...

Jenna, I have always steered away from microwaving plastic. Just a gut feeling it was BAAAAAD! I know atoms speed up and fly off when heated in many cases, so I figured that happened in plastic bowls and they jumped onto the food.

I use my ceramic bowls to re-heat food and then if it's for the kids, I move the warm food to a plastic or paper plate.

Interesting to know my theory is supported by a scientist.

Rachel Schell said...

wow! good to know!

Gumby said...

so, you're surprised that the Bush FDA actually used industry funded research? will we surived this man's 8 years?