The potential dangers of BPA, or bisphenol A, have been in the news for years. However, despite numerous studies and expert opinions, it still receives federal approval in some plastic food containers.
This chemical component helps to harden plastic and can be found in our food storage containers and water bottles. BPA is also used to line metal cans and bottle tops and prevent a metallic taste from leaching out.
Some studies have shown that BPA in containers or lids seeps out of the plastic into the food or drink we’re consuming, possibly disrupting our reproductive systems and increasing our risk of reproductive cancers such as prostate or breast cancer. In particular, exposure to BPA is linked to possible health effects in fetuses, infants, and children.
However, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), BPA is safe at very low levels. The FDA completed extensive research and reviewed hundreds of studies, concluding that “current approved uses of BPA in food containers and packaging are safe.” The agency states it will continue further research to better understand the chemical.
Despite FDA’s assurances, if you’re still concerned about the effects of BPA, you can take measures to avoid it:
- Look for a resin code of 3 or 7 on the container, which indicates it may contain BPA. However, manufacturers are not required to disclose if they are using BPA in their packaging, according to an October 2017 NPR article.
- Use BPA-free products, and be aware that some products labeled “BPA-free” may contain identical compounds as BPA but under different names, such as “BPS.” Consider using glass, porcelain, or stainless steel storage containers as alternatives.
- Avoid microwaving or serving hot food in plastic containers. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Services, heat may cause plastic to break down and allow BPA to leach into food.
- Do not put plastic containers in the dishwasher.
- Reduce your use of canned foods.
For more information about BPA, visit the FDA’s website at www.fda.gov and the National Institute of Environmental Health Services’ website at https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/sya-bpa/index.cfm.