The industrial chemical Bisephenol A (BPA) has gotten increasingly negative attention in recent years. So much so, that congressional legislation was recently introduced to ban food packaging containing BPA. But it’s not necessary to wait for the government to take steps in order to scale back at home on products that contain BPA.
The Harms of BPA
BPA has been around since the 1960s. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concluded that BPA, which is commonly found in the likes of canned goods and plastic containers, is safe in the small amounts currently used in packaged foods. However, numerous studies have suggested it has harmful effects, especially in large doses. In animal studies, the hormone-mimicking chemical has been associated with cancerous activity, reproductive abnormalities, behavioral changes and other problems. In 2012, the FDA banned it from baby bottles and sippy cups, although many manufacturers had voluntarily stopped using BPA.
Government officials stress that the new bill would also encourage the development of alternatives to BPA and a review of all substances already used in food packaging.
Ways to Go BPA-Free
If you must use plastic, look for those products marked BPA-free. Avoid using plastic containers that contain the recycle codes 3 or 7, numbers which indicate the items may be made with BPA.
Toss old, scratched plastic water bottles. Exposure to plastic chemicals may be greater when the surface is worn down.
Avoid microwaving plastic containers or putting them in the dishwasher unless they are labelled microwave- and dishwasher-safe.
Don’t reuse single-use plastics. When used repeatedly, they can break down and release plastic’s chemicals.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.