In Clean Eating Tips for Moms 2, we talked about how to reduce pesticides on produce and avoid food additives, antibiotics and hormones. This post is about how to reduce exposure to plastics, a major source of known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.
Harmful plastics can be found in disposable utensils, food packaging and food storage containers, as well as in other food related items. From breastmilk storage to leftovers, and everything in between, plastics are everywhere! In reality, we can never eliminate everything we would like from the food we eat, but careful selection and preparation can significantly reduce exposure for our families and ourselves.
Are there any plastics that are safe? Maybe, but at least we know there ARE some that are SAFER. Classification of plastics with numbers for recycling has helped to make it easier to understand how to know which plastics are safer. A detailed explanation of plastics classification and tips for safer use can be found at IATP.org. Plastics numbered 3, 6 and 7 should be avoided.
Reducing Plastics Exposure
To reduce exposure to chemicals that leach from plastics into foods and beverages, substitute glass, paper, silicone and stainless steel for food and drink storage when you can. Never heat plastics in the microwave, as this can cause the release of harmful chemicals, even from plastics classified as safer. Consider glass or silicone for breastmilk refrigeration and freezing, and glass bottles for feedings. Whenever possible, buy milk and other beverages in cardboard containers instead of plastic bottles. Read labels. Food cans are often lined with plastics. Look for items that are BPA-free and PVC-free. Check the number on plastic baby food packages and avoid #7 plastics. #7 means the product is a combination of plastics, but unless it is specified, you have no way of knowing which ones.
If you’d like to find a healthy alternative to plastic drinking cups and bottles, glass bottles with silicone jackets and drinking spouts are available in sippy cups as well as grown-up styles. Check Target, Toys-R-Us and Amazon.
A reference guide like the one at IATP can help you choose safer plastics. Making better choices for the plastics you do use, and eliminating plastics when possible, can significantly reduce exposure to harmful chemicals for you and your family.