BPA What You Need to Know

May 26, 2011

BPA has been in the headlines nonstop lately; find out why, and how you can avoid this potentially harmful chemical in your everyday life

BPA has been in the headlines nonstop lately as scientists, health experts, and consumers press for a countrywide ban on the material used in food packaging, receipts, some dental sealants and possibly more. The problem with BPA is the increasing evidence that it mimics estrogen as well as leaching into infant formula, beverages and canned food. Potential adverse effects, which have appeared even at low levels, include disrupted genetic signaling and hormone activity that can possibly lead to diabetes, obesity, impaired reproductive, neurological, immune, developmental, and cardiovascular function, liver disease and even certain cancers. The CDC has found BPA in more than 90 percent of the Americans it has tested.

As the evidence of BPA’s biological activity grows, the search for alternatives is on, although the degree to which BPA poses a direct health risk continues to be debated. Recent studies, conducted by the National Toxicology Program at the National Institutes of Health, prompted the FDA to question and acknowledge “potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children.” But China, Canada, Japan, the European Union, over half a dozen US states, DC, and several other local governments have already restricted uses of BPA, (in children’s products) and this year approximately 17 states are expected to introduce similar legislation.

In a study conducted by the Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, participants on the “fresh-food diet” which focused on fresh foods rather than canned or plastic packaged foods, dropped their BPA levels on average 60 percent. BPA wasn’t the only chemical to drop. Levels of DEHP, a phthalate used in food containers and plastic wraps, thought to interrupt reproductive development, dropped on average 50 percent when families were on the “fresh-food diet”.

The great news here is that there are things we as consumers can do to reduce exposure to these harmful chemicals. SupermarketGuru.com encourages you to do your best to avoid BPA. Here are some tips:

1. Choose frozen or jarred vegetables instead of cans with BPA’s epoxy white lining – do refer to company’s websites for information on BPA free cans

2. Cook at home from fresh whole fruits and vegetables and avoid restaurants that do not cook with fresh foods.

3. When on the go - drink from reusable stainless steel bottles or other BPA free polyethylene containers. Even consider bringing your own cup to your favorite coffee shop- this may help limit exposure to BPA and will help save you some change!

4. Eat canned fish from pouches or jars instead of cans. Or contact the company to see if they use BPA in their can linings.

5. Do not microwave plastics; this includes all Tupperware - use microwave safe glass or porcelain instead

6. Avoid plastics containing the number 7 in the recycling symbol or “PC” (usually found on the bottom of the container) these most often contain BPA and should not be used to reheat food. (Not all #7 plastics contain BPA; the only way to know for sure is to call the manufacturer)

7. Choose glass or plastics made with recycling label #1, #2 and #4, cloudy or soft colored plastic containers clearly labeled BPA free, stainless steel containers, or consider using tetra packs.

8. Limit your consumption of canned soda and beer - where possible choose glass as an alternative.