Post #41 PLASTIC, THE EVERYDAY TOXIN!!!
Think you know how to be Plastics-Safe??? In Podcast Episode #38,Karen tell us the TRUTH!
Just wrap them in plastic or put them in a plastic container and throw them in the fridge, right? Maybe later, you just pop them in the microwave and heat them up. Ever wondered if that plastic wrap or container is safe though? Should we really be relying on this inexpensive and readily available material? Lately, I’ve been thinking about this. I’ve started to notice how much I really rely on plastics for food storage and have been wondering if it’s safe to use so much of it, so often. Do the chemicals leach into the food we eat? Does heating plastic cause it to release more chemicals or to break down? The subject of plastic safety is a pretty broad topic, so I’m just going to talk specifically about the plastics that we use to store and reheat our food. The every-day plastics that we sometimes just take for granted.
THAT PLASTIC CONTAINER YOU RE-HEAT YOUR FOOD IN COULD BE SUPER TOXIC!!
Think twice about popping your take-out into the microwave for a re-heat in the container that it came in. Several of the chemicals in pliable plastic can leach into your food when you heat it, and even if you transfer the food into a container labeled “microwave-safe,” you still may not be protected. That label means they won’t melt or break when heated—but it doesn’t mean they’re safe for you to heat your food in.
The two most concerning components in plastics are phthalates and bisphenol-A (BPA), which are known endocrine disruptors due to their ability to affect estrogen and testosterone levels in humans. Endocrine disruptors, according to Wikipedia, are:
chemicals that can interfere with endocrine (or hormonal) systems at certain doses. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. Any system in the body controlled by hormones can be derailed by hormone disruptors. Specifically, endocrine disruptors may be associated with the development of learning disabilities, severe attention deficit disorder, cognitive and brain development problems; deformations of the body (including limbs); breast cancer, prostate cancer, thyroid and other cancers; sexual development problems such as feminizing of males or masculinizing effects on females, etc.
What are Phthalates???
You can’t see, smell, or taste them, but they’re in most all of the products you use every day. They’re also in the food you eat.
Phthalates are chemicals that make plastic soft and flexible and they are found in:
• Cosmetics and personal care products, from perfume, nail polish, and hair spray to soap, shampoo, and skin moisturizers
• Medical tubing and fluid bags
• Wood finishes, detergents, adhesives, plastic plumbing pipes, lubricants, solvents, insecticides, building materials, and vinyl flooring
• Food, especially meat and dairy products and fast food
They’re also in your body! According to WebMD, nearly all Americans have phthalate byproducts in their urine.
How do they get in your body? They get in from:
• Food or beverages served or packaged in plastic that has phthalates
• Dairy and meat from animals that have been exposed
• Cosmetics, shampoo, skin moisturizers and other personal care products
• Dust in rooms where the carpet, upholstery, or wood finishes contain phthalates
What is BPA???
BPA (bisphenol A)- BPA is a chemical that has been used to harden plastics for more than 40 years. It's everywhere. BPA-containing plastics are commonly used in food containers, baby bottles, and cosmetics. It’s also used to line the inside of canned food containers. According to Healthline.com, when BPA containers are made, not all of the BPA gets sealed into the product allowing part of it to break free and mix with the container’s food or liquid. Leaching of BPA from containers can increase with higher temperatures (such as microwaving) and with time and use, for example through repeated use of plastic water bottles.
What Products Contain BPA?
• Items packaged in plastic containers
• Canned foods
• Feminine hygiene products
• Thermal printer receipts
• CDs and DVDs
• Household electronics
• Eyeglass lenses
• Sports equipment
• Dental filling sealants
If that’s not alarming enough, here’s a couple of scary statistics. According to Healthline.com, “a recent study found that BPA levels in urine decreased by 66% following three days during which participants avoided packaged foods” and, “Another study had people eat one serving of either fresh or canned soup daily for five days. Urine levels of BPA were 1,221% higher in those who consumed the canned soup.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Now that we have that covered, back to microwaving food in plastic containers. It’s not safe! You are going to release the toxic chemicals used to make that container or plastic wrap into your food or beverage. Also, if the container is scratched or discolored, you are going to release an even higher level of chemicals into your food. Plastics break down over time and exposure to high temperatures, so there is no reason to take the risk.
According to Time.com, experts recommend switching to glass or ceramic containers to heat and store food. If you have to cover the food in order to heat it, use a paper towel instead of plastic wrap. The condensation that builds up underneath the plastic wrap, that contains phthalates, can drip down and contaminate your food.
If you can’t avoid microwaving in plastic, read the codes at the bottom of the container. They say something about the type of plastic used and AVOID any containers that have the code 3 or 7. These have the highest levels of phthalates and BPA. Also, the USDA advises not to reuse margarine tubs, take-out containers, whipped cream containers, and other containers that are one-time use containers (looking at you, Grandma!) These containers are likely to melt when exposed to heat and cause chemicals to leach into food.
At this point in time, plastic is pretty much unavoidable in our lives. However, we can cut down on our use of it. Especially for food storage and re-heating. Some alternatives are:
• Glass canning jars. You can store your food in the glass jar in the fridge, then just take off the metal top and pop it in the microwave.
• Glass storage containers with silicon lids
• Silicon containers
• Cloth food sacks (waxed or not)
• Stainless steel containers.