Monday, June 20, 2011

Dangers of using Plastic in Food

In modern society, plastic is nearly everywhere and we use it almost on a daily basis. Plastic bags and containers are used to store and cook food. Foods that we buy from market are generally wrapped in plastic. We use plastic water bottles and even feed our babies from plastic bottles, cups and bowls. Plastics are light weight, air-tight, durable, convenient and disposable which make them perfect for keeping the food fresh. Plastic is inexpensive storage option but all plastic products have dangerous chemicals which leak into the food and contacts the material particularly if the plastic is heated to high temperatures. These dangerous chemicals can cause cancers and other health problems. Read on to know the dangers of using plastic in food.

Heating plastics containers in the microwave or storing warm food & beverages in plastic containers enhances leaching of chemical as heat disturbs the molecules in the material and cause them to break down into their component chemicals. Compared to other foods, oily or fatty foods absorb more chemicals. Over 30 types of plastics are used as packaging materials such as polyethylene, polycarbonates, polypropylene, polystyrene and polyvinyl chlorides. All plastics are not good for storing food so you should use plastic containers that are particularly marketed for use with food.

Dangers of using Plastic in Food Containers

Polycarbonates have chemical bisphenol-A or BPA which mimics the hormone estrogen. In Canada and the European Union, BPA has been banned for use in most plastic. Polycarbonates are used in food and drink containers, baby bottles, sports bottles and water bottles. Polycarbonates also cause many problems such as cancer, insulin resistance, impaired immune function, birth defects, early onset of puberty, behavioral and neural effects, obesity, genetic damage, heart disease and inflammation.

Polyvinyl Chloride
Polyvinyl chloride/PVC has phthalates which is a toxic chemical. Polyvinyl chloride is used in food packaging, plastic wrap, cooking oil containers and peanut butter jars. Like polycarbonates, PVC is also endocrine disruptor. It mimics the female hormone estrogen. It can cause certain types of cancer, birth defects, allergies, asthma in children, genetic changes, ulcers, deafness, skin diseases, indigestion, vision failure and liver dysfunction. It also affects kidney, spleen, liver, bone formation and body weight.

Polyethylene Terephthalate
Polyethylene terephthalate/PET/PETE leaks antimony trioxide and di(2ethylhexyl) pthalate (DEHP). PET is used in salad containers, water and soda bottles, peanut butter jars, food containers and wrappers, kitchenware and heat-sealed plastic packaging. It can cause skin and respiratory irritations, miscarriage, liver problems, asthma in children, menstrual problems, reproductive problems and cancer.

Polystyrene leaks styrene, an endocrine disruptor that mimics the female hormone estrogen. Polystyrene is used in food containers such as take-out food containers, disposable coffee containers, cheese containers, meats containers, clear clamshell containers and bakery containers. It can cause nervous system problems, dizziness, brain problems and unconsciousness. It also irritates nose, eyes, and throat.

Tips to avoid Dangers of Plastic in Food Containers

  • Don’t use food containers with recycling label No. 7.
  • In place of canned foods, use frozen or fresh foods.
  • Use glass or stainless steel containers to cut down the use of plastic.
  • Use ceramic or glass dishware in the microwave instead of plastic food containers.
  • Instead of plastic water bottles, use stainless steel water bottle.
  • While buying cheese and meat from your deli counter, tell them to wrap it in wax paper.
Video of Bisphenol A, Food Containers, Effects on Humans, Gov't Regs from youtube:


Post a Comment

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More