I must admit I hadn’t given much thought to the chemicals in food packaging, or the plastics used in baby bottles and toys.
Sure, I knew that some plastics were considered risky, but I didn’t bother to do the research.
So, I decided it was about time I took a closer look. And, I’m honestly a bit shocked by my findings.
Firstly, we’ll focus on the dreaded BPA…
The science bit!
BPA (Bisphenol A) is an industrial chemical which has been present in food packaging since the 1960s.
It’s hazardous effects have been suspected for many years. But, a 2010 FDA report has raised further concerns regarding exposure in unborn babies, infants, and young children.
Shockingly, the Consumer Reports lab tests (December 2009) on several brands of canned juice, soups, tuna, and green beans found that almost all of the products contained some level of BPA.
In fact, some organic products and those labelled BPA-free, contained small amounts of BPA, which is ridiculous.
BPA can be found in:
- Hard polycarbonate plastic food containers marked with “PC” recycling label #7 on the bottom.
- Lining of most canned foods, including the tin lining for baby formula.
- It’s in so many products I can’t list them all, but anything from coffee makers to laptop computers to baby bottles and soothers.
Babies fed with liquid formula are among the most exposed to BPA. Also, those fed formula from polycarbonate bottles may take in considerable amounts throughout the course of one day.
This isn’t to be taken lightly.
The Environment California Research and Policy Center published a report which found 5 of the most popular baby bottle brands — Avent, Dr. Brown’s, Evenflo, Gerber and Playtex— leach enough BPA into the liquids they come in contact with to cause harm in lab animals.
The BPA effect
It’s thought that BPA mimics the action of the hormone estrogen, and possibly other hormones.
Studies, which have measured BPA levels in the blood, have shown higher levels to be linked with impotency and possibly heart disease.
Studies have even linked very low doses of BPA exposure to cancer, impaired immune function, early onset of puberty, obesity, diabetes, and hyperactive behavior.
It’s clear we need more research, though.
In the past the UK Food Standards Agency have argued there is no risk to children, saying:
“Data from a recent FSA-sponsored project on dietary consumption by infants shows dietary consumption of BPA by infants in the UK might be up to 0.007 mg/day/kg bodyweight, which is less than the full Tolerable Daily Intake.”
To be honest, I’m not convinced that using BPA-containing products is such a good idea, at least until we know more.
The fact that the 2010 FDA report has now raised concerns makes me very wary of this product, particularly where my baby is concerned.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think you need to get overly worried.
But, I think you should try to lessen your baby’s exposure to this chemical where possible.
So, here are 10 ways to reduce your families exposure to BPA
#1 Choose BPA-free plastic products — avoid #7 (PC) plastics, especially for babies and children’s food.
#2 Get into the habit of checking labels carefully, particularly for sippy cups, baby bottles, food storage containers, water bottles, soothers, children’s toys, etc.
#3 If you’re worried about plastics in general, those with recycling labels #1 (PET), #2 (HDPE), #4 (LDPE), and #5 (PP) are safer choices.
#4 Find baby bottles in glass (try Evenflo’s shatterproof glass bottles). Alternatively, go for those made from the safer plastics listed above, or those which state BPA-free — MAM, Lansinoh, Born Free, Medela — just check the label to clarify.
#5 Throw out any old cloudy and scratched plastic bottles, or plastic containers.
#6 Go for food in glass jars or cartons, rather than tins e.g. soup, tomatoes, but try to eat fresh foods most of the time.
#7 Choose frozen vegetables rather than those in a can, and opt for fresh or frozen fish rather than canned.
#8 To avoid chemicals leaching into your food, don’t microwave in plastic containers, put plastics in the dishwasher, or use harsh detergents on them.
#9 If reheating food choose glass or other microwaveable dish-ware.
#10 Don’t leave plastic baby bottles in hot cars or direct sunlight.
It seems rather unrealistic to expect zero exposure to BPA at present, given its wide usage by manufacturers. But, you can certainly take action to minimize exposure.
Personally, I’ll be checking symbols on the bottom of any plastics I use from now on.
Just this morning as I was writing this article, the postie arrive with Elissa’s new Doidy Cup, which we are so excited about!
As I was opening the package, I got that sinking feeling, “Oh no, I hope this is BPA free?” Something I hadn’t considered when I ordered.
Anyway, I was so relieved to find #2 marked on the bottom of the cup.
So, we’re good to go now!
She needs a little more practice before she’s ready to use this, don’t you think? 🙂
I use a BPA free water bottle myself, similar to this Thermos Nissan Water Bottle.
What are your thoughts on BPA-containing products? Have you, or would you, consider going BPA free?