Are You Eating Plastic?

Chances are that you are eating some amount of plastic in the canned foods that you eat. You are also drinking a little plastic from hard plastic beverage containers. The most common plastic compound we are exposed to in foods is bis-phenol A (BPA). This is a ubiquitous chemical that acts as a hormone disruptor. We are exposed to BPA throughout our lives, starting in the womb. Previously the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considered BPA safe but in 2010 the FDA changed it’s position and now has “some concern” regarding the safety of BPA, and thus new studies regarding the safety of BPA have been funded by the government and are ongoing.

Health Effects of BPA

BPA acts as a synthetic estrogen and has broad reaching effects. Even in small amounts BPA has been linked to infertility, breast and reproductive system cancer, obesity, diabetes, early puberty, behavioral changes in children and resistance to chemotherapy treatments. Women and men with higher levels of BPA in their blood are more likely to have miscarriages and alterations in sex hormones.

Strategies to Avoid BPA

Here are a few common sources of, and strategies to avoid, BPA:

BPA is found in the plastic epoxy lining of canned foods.

  • Limit canned foods, such as canned vegetables, canned fruits, canned tomatoes, and canned beans or lentils.
  • Trade canned vegetables and fruit for fresh and frozen produce.
  • Cook dried beans and lentils in bulk and then freeze the cooked beans and lentils for future use.
  • Opt for Eden brand or BioNaturae tomato and legume products that are made with BPA-free liners or glass.
  • Choose soup and broth in cartons rather than cans, such as Pacific or Imagine.
  • Choose canned tuna in BPA-free cans.
  • Choose Native Forest canned coconut milk, vegetables and fruits.
  • A few years ago it was said that all Trader Joe’s canned corn, canned beans, canned fish, canned poultry, and canned beef were in BPA-free cans. Contact Customer Service for a current list.

BPA is found in hard plastic containers marked with the letters PC for polycarbonate and recycling labels #3 or #7.

  • Check plastic storage containers (e.g., Tupperware) for PC or recycling label #3 and #7. Replace with glass storage containers.
  • Do not heat food in plastic containers or plastic bags (e.g., Steamables).
  • Use a stainless steel water bottle that does not have a plastic interior liner. My current favorite is HydroFlask.
  • BPA has been removed from baby bottles in recent years, but older bottles likely contain BPA. Discard bottles that were purchased prior to 2012. Use BPA-free plastic, glass or stainless steel baby bottles and sippy cups.
  • Use glass or stainless steel to carry your lunch. My current favorite is PlanetBox.

Receipts contain BPA.

  • Do not take receipts when offered.
  • Wash hands after handling receipts.
  • Do not toss receipts into grocery bags full of food.

Bottom Line: Limit your exposure to BPA found in canned foods, plastic food containers and plastic water bottles where you can. It’s difficult to avoid every possible exposure to BPA; do your best and continue to adjust your choices.

Photo Credit: The Soft Landing, also contains a longer list of BPA free food products.

Material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for personalized nutrition or health advice or healthcare. Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read or accessed through this website.

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