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Which Plastics to Never Use with Food

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As might be expected, given the strength of the plastic industry, there is controversy. Although there have been more than 100 studies showing BPA to be a concern, the plastics industry says it is harmless. The FDA admits that “substances used to make plastics can leach into food,” but they maintain that the levels are safe. Safe?! Yes, leaching petroleum by-products and toxic chemicals in your food are safe–don’t worry! Now why doesn’t that sound right? If, like me, you find the FDA a rather lackadaisical regulator, why not follow these tips for safer plastic use? (There is also that little environmental issue with plastic to keep in mind.) And while some may want to skip the plastic-food relationship altogether, it is a hard habit to break. Many of these tips don’t exclude the use of plastic, but rather offer the safest options.

1. Know your plastics. Plastic items are marked with a resin identification coding system (the number surrounded by arrows), which stand for:

1 polyethyelene terephthalate (PETE)
2 high-density polyethylene (HDPE)
3 vinyl, polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
4 low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
5 polypropylene (PP)
6 polystyrene (PS)
7 other (includes polycarbonate, acrylic, polylactic acid, fiberglass)

2. When you need to use plastic, these are the safer choices to use with food: 1, 2, 4 and 5.

3. Learn to recognize, and then avoid, polycarbonate (number 7) for food usage. Polycarbonate plastics are hard and clear. Common items made from this BPA-containing plastic are food storage containers, baby bottles, water bottles, bowls and tableware. (And the lining inside food and drink cans, by the way.)

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Read more: Children, Diet & Nutrition, General Health, Green Kitchen Tips, Health, Health & Safety, , , ,

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

250 comments

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4:04PM PDT on Jul 17, 2015

I was told about plastic drinking bottles that gradually leach toxins. So I bought posh metal drinking bottles. However, any blackcurrant squash left in there to be drunk later has a horrible taste - tainted by the metal. I can be away from days at a time and proper thorough washing-up, as opposed to a rinse, has to wait till I get home.

I think the metal must be even worse than the plastic - at least that didn't make the drink taste bad! I take a bottle around with me all day in hot weather, but have to think again about what to use.

3:59PM PDT on Jul 17, 2015

No, I am not loading five pages... ! or was it six? You can put it all on one!

4:57AM PDT on May 14, 2015

Simple but significant enough

4:04AM PDT on May 14, 2015

Interesting, thanks

12:57PM PDT on May 11, 2015

ty

1:54AM PDT on May 8, 2015

Shit. I use plastic too

6:17AM PDT on Apr 30, 2015

Thanks

5:51AM PDT on Apr 26, 2015

interesting

9:12AM PDT on Apr 25, 2015

best is to eat straight in the shop :))))
no bags
no containers
just imagine

( i am kidding :))))) )

3:46PM PDT on Apr 24, 2015

Thanks for sharing.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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