May 19: SPOTLIGHT Â
- Posted by CERC India
- Posted in may19
Is plastic food packaging a health hazard?
Plastic food containers and wrappings are commonly used by us without a thought.Â However, thereâ€™s growing evidence that food can be contaminated by harmful chemicals from some types of plastic.
Two kinds of plastic are a matter of concern. Polycarbonate (used to make plastic bottles and containers) can release bisphenol A (BPA) into food, especially when bottles are washed for reuse. BPA also leaches from the linings of cans. PVC or polyvinyl chloride is used to make shrink and cling wrap, plastic containers for takeaways, soft drink bottles and the gaskets that form a seal on screw-cap glass jars. PVC contains phthalates that can leach into food.
Heating food in plastic seems to increase the amount of chemicals that’s transferred to food. Migration also increases when plastic touches fatty, salty, or acidic foods.
Both BPA and phthalates are endocrine disruptors. There is growing scientific evidence that even at lower levels of exposure, they cause infertility, obesity, breast cancer, prostate cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Phthalates have also been linked to ADHD, allergies and asthma.
Chemicals calledÂ plasticisersÂ are added to PVC to make it soft and flexible. Because of its low cost,Â DEHPÂ is the phthalate most often used as a plasticiser for PVC.Â Experts agree that low level exposure to DEHP can affect reproductive development, particularly in young boys.
Epoxidised soybean oil (ESBO) is one of the most frequently used additives to PVC when used for containers or packaging for food. It is linked to the release of toxic chemicals. Â
To reduce your exposure to chemicals in plastics:
- Avoid fresh meat, fruit or vegetables wrapped in cling wrap.
- Avoid canned foods, as can linings can leach BPA directly into food.
- Avoid using plastic containers when cooking or reheating food in a microwave oven.
- Discard scratched or worn plastic containers.
- Hand wash plastics to reduce wear and tear.
- Use a paper towel instead of plastic wrap in the microwave.
- Store food in glass containers whenever possible.
Sources: www.choice.com.au, www.webmd.com, www.theguardian.com