Is it just me–or is it really maddening that we are pelted with industrial toxins and told by governmental regulating agencies that they are safe? I am generally a happy person, but I must confess that there are a number of chemicals and compounds that seriously put a bee in my bonnet–Bishphenol A (BPA) is one of them.
BPA is a heavily produced industrial compound that has been detected in more than 2,000 people worldwide, including more than 95 percent of 400 people tested in a study in the United States. More than 100 peer-reviewed studies have found BPA to be toxic at low dose. BPA is commonly used to strengthen plastic and line food cans–and the FDA thinks it isn’t all that bad, apparently ignoring the findings of numerous prominent and well-regarded studies.
Once again, it’s up to us as consumers to regulate our exposure to toxic products. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), completely eliminating exposure to BPA may not be possible, but there are steps you can take to reduce your family’s exposure to this chemical. Here are some guidelines adapted from the EWG website:
Canned foods are thought to be the predominate route of BPA exposure. Numerous studies support this fact, including an investigation of BPA exposures for 257 young children in North Carolina and Ohio day care centers. Researchers collected samples of the air, water, dust, hand wipes and the daily diet and attributed 99 percent of children’s daily BPA exposures to food. Despite this fact, very little canned food testing has been performed. Both the Plastics Industry and FDA have based their safety or exposure assessments for BPA on incredibly few canned food tests, fewer than 20 in both cases.
EWG tested foods and beverages from nearly 100 cans purchased in grocery stores in three states. EWG tested 28 different types of foods including canned fruits, vegetables, pasta, beans, infant formula, meal replacements and canned milk. They tested 1 to 6 samples of each type food. BPA levels varied from less the detection limit to a maximum level of 385 micrograms BPA per kilogram food (a part per billion).
• Buy prepared foods in jars when possible–especially tomatoes and tomato sauce.
• Opt for fresh produce when you can, choose frozen produce over canned.
• Use dried beans instead of canned beans–here are some quick cooking tips!
All U.S. manufacturers use BPA-based lining on the metal portions of infant formula containers. Tests of liquid formulas by FDA and EWG show that BPA leaches into the formula from all brands tested. Enfamil formula appears to have the highest concentrations of the 20 tests.
The only solution here is to use alternatives to canned formula. If you have found a formula that is listed as BPA-free, please tell us about it in the comment field!
Plastics to Avoid
When possible it is best to avoid #7 plastics, especially for children’s food. Plastics with the recycling labels #1, #2 and #4 on the bottom are safer choices and do not contain BPA.
• Find baby bottles in glass versions, or those made from the safer plastics including polyamine, polypropylene and polyethylene.
• Soft or cloudy-colored plastic does not contain BPA.
• Bottles used to pump and store expressed breast milk by the brand Medela are also labeled BPA-free.
• Many metal water bottles are lined with a plastic coating that contains BPA. Look for stainless steel bottles that do not have a plastic liner.
• Read about plastic and food storage here.
While the levels of BPA that leach from hard plastics is generally low, we recommend avoiding use of plastic containers to heat food in microwaves. Ceramic, glass, and other microwaveable dishware are good alternatives. Avoid using old and scratched plastic bottles.
By Melissa Breyer, Senior Editor, Care2