My husband works in for a plastic company. Not for plastic containers or anything, but plastic nonetheless. I stopped to visit him at work the other day and was struck by that chemically-plastic smell as I entered the building. I left with a headache.
BPA has gotten a lot of negative publicity in recent years, as well it should. But there's more to wary of than just bisphenol A. For instance, #3 plastic is referred to as "the toxic plastic." And yet foods are sometimes packaged in it. Yuck. How did it garner its nickname? Well, the presence of DEHA just might be the cause. Exposure to this toxic chemical, which is commonly used in plastic wrap, has been linked to cancer (of course), liver damage, testicular damage, and lowered body weight (not in a good way) and bone mass. Says who? Says the EPA.
Of course, #7 plastic contains the BPA hazards in the polycarbonate. I've blogged about this before, so if you're interested in reading more about it, check out my post back in August of last year.
Basically, you want to steer clear of plastics with the recycling numbers 3, 6 and 7. Do not buy or store food in these plastics. And stop using any scratched or damaged plastics in the kitchen. Since older plastics are apt to leach more toxins as they age, you want to transfer the use of these containers to the craft room or workshop.
Glass and ceramic containers are your best choice for food storage and microwaving. Never, ever microwave in plastic. That means food brought home in take-out containers should be transferred to something else before nuking. Better yet, put the food in a pan and reheat the old-fashioned, and safer, way...on the stovetop or in the oven. I know that many plastic containers say "microwave safe" on them. That doesn't mean they are.
When food shopping, look for containers with the numbers 1 (polyethylene terephthalate, 2 (high-density polyethylene), 4 (low-density polyethylene) or 5 (polopropylene) on them. These are the safest. Since you don't know what's in the plastic wrap your meats and deli items come in, take them out of the packaging as soon as you get home and repackage them with safer containers and wraps. You also want to avoid storing foods with high acidity in any kind of plastic. Pyrex® is a good choice for storing and cooking foods...maybe you should put some on your Mother's Day or Father's Day wish lists!
When shopping for plastic bags or plastic wrap, read the labels and stay away from ones with BPA or PVC.
Wow. Seems like there's so much to remember anymore when it comes to food safety. Just try to remember 1, 2, 4, 5 Skip the 3 and stay alive! Yeah, pretty bad rhyme, but hey, if it helps you remember, I did my job!
Keeping it healthy,