BPA in Plastic Food Containers and Water Bottles: What You Need to Know – 80 Twenty Nutrition

BPA in Plastic Food Containers and Water Bottles: What You Need to Know

Are you concerned about BPA in plastic food containers and water bottles? Many people are, and finding the answers isn’t easy. It’s an issue many of my clients raise and is especially nerve-wracking for cancer survivors and their families. We all have a right to know if BPA is in our plastic food containers and water bottles and how to prepare our food and beverages safely to minimize BPA exposure. Here are evidence-based tips on BPA so you can make an informed choice.

BPA in Plastic Food Containers and Water Bottles - safety and how to lower your exposure - Christy Brissette media dietitian 80 Twenty Nutrition

What is BPA?

Bisphenol A,  or BPA, is a chemical that is used in hard plastic food and drink containers such as the lining of canned foods, food storage containers, water bottles and baby bottles. The BPA from the container can be transferred to your food or drinks.

BPA in Plastic Food Containers and Water Bottles - safety and how to lower your exposure - Christy Brissette media dietitian 80 Twenty Nutrition

 

Is BPA Safe?

Animal studies have shown that BPA can affect hormones such as estrogen, which may lead to fertility problems and increase cancer risk in high doses. Studies in people suggest that changes in genes that affect puberty, ovulation and fertility occur as a result of ongoing BPA exposure.  These concerns aren’t limited to women; male fertility may also be negatively impacted by BPA. There is concern that BPA may have a negative impact on brain development and function and that it could be linked to behavioral problems and obesity.

While the European Union has banned BPA, Health Canada says that the amount of BPA that most of us are exposed to every day is not enough to be a risk to our health.  The FDA continues to conduct research on BPA but states it is safe as currently used in the food supply. 

BPA in Plastic Food Containers and Water Bottles - safety and how to lower your exposure - Christy Brissette media dietitian 80 Twenty Nutrition

Babies may be exposed to higher levels of BPA if they are given formula and baby bottles that contain BPA. Since 2014, all infant formula sold in Canada has been packaged in BPA-free containers. In the U.S., the FDA uses confusing language to say that since 2012, the FDA “no longer provide for the use of BPA-based resins in packaging for baby formula, sippy cups and baby bottles”. They go on to say that industry had largely abandoned use of BPA in these products anyway.

If you choose to limit or avoid BPA, here is what you can do in the grocery store and when you’re storing and heating up food. 

BPA in Plastic Food Containers and Water Bottles - safety and how to lower your exposure - Christy Brissette media dietitian 80 Twenty Nutrition

BPA in Plastic Food Containers and Water Bottles

How to Choose BPA-Free Containers When You’re Grocery Shopping

  • Use canned foods less often or look for “BPA-free” versions.
  • Frozen foods are a great option because they are often frozen at the peak of freshness and the packaging usually doesn’t contain BPA.
  • Say no thank you to your receipt unless your really need it. Receipts are laced with BPA (sounds scary and it is!)
  • Buy glass, stainless steel or ceramic containers for storing food when possible.

BPA in Plastic Food Containers and Water Bottles - safety and how to lower your exposure - Christy Brissette media dietitian 80 Twenty Nutrition

Look for BPA Free Plastic

If you choose to use plastic containers, you can find our whether or not it has BPA in it by looking in 2 places:

  1. Look for a label that says “BPA free”

OR

2. Check the number or recycling code at the bottom of the container.

  • The numbers 1, 2, 4 or 5 mean it is BPA free.
  • A 3 ,7 or no number means the container may have BPA in it.

 

BPA in Plastic Food Containers and Water Bottles - safety and how to lower your exposure - Christy Brissette media dietitian 80 Twenty Nutrition

 

Tips for Heating and Freezing Food 

  • Use microwave-safe containers such as glass or ceramic instead of plastic when you are heating food in the microwave.

When plastic is heated, it starts to break down and is more likely to release BPA and other chemicals into your food.

  • Check the bottom of the container to see if your container is microwave safe or freezer safe before using it in these ways.

Very high or very low temperatures can cause BPA and other chemicals to move from the plastic into your food and drinks.

  • If you are putting hot foods or liquids into plastic containers or bottles, let the food or liquid cool in a BPA-free container first before moving over to a container that may have BPA.

This is especially important with baby formula.

BPA in Plastic Food Containers and Water Bottles - safety and how to lower your exposure - Christy Brissette media dietitian 80 Twenty Nutrition

 

Should Plastic Containers Go In the Dishwasher?

  • Check the bottom of your container to see if it says it is dishwasher safe.

Very high or very low temperatures can cause BPA and other chemicals to move from the plastic into your food and drinks.

Personally, even if a plastic container says it is “BPA free” I still wash it by hand. There are other chemicals in plastic that aren’t stable under high temperatures.

Is it Safe to Use Plastic Wrap in the Microwave?

Most plastic wrap doesn’t have BPA in it, but it does have a chemical called plasticizer that makes it stretchy. When you heat plastic wrap, the chemical can go into your food. Only microwave plastic wrap that is labelled “microwave safe” or put a paper towel or a microwave-safe plate over your food.

Don’t Reuse Plastic Containers Food is Sold In and Plastic Water Bottles

Do you reuse plastic food containers such as yogurt or margarine tubs to store leftovers? What about plastic water bottles that aren’t meant to be reused?

BPA in Plastic Food Containers and Water Bottles - safety and how to lower your exposure - Christy Brissette media dietitian 80 Twenty Nutrition

You might notice these containers are weaker than the reusable kind made for storing food. These containers break down easily. They are not meant to be reused and should never be heated or frozen, because chemicals will be released into your food.

Do you have other questions about BPA in plastic food containers and water bottles that aren’t answered here? Please ask away in the comments below!

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  1. Thank you for this useful and informative post! I am definitely going to bookmark it for future reference.