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Plastic and Canned Food Safety

Posted Jul 08 2009 11:44am

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While I am no big fan of plastic because it is made from petroleum, it is nevertheless an unavoidable part of modern life in the U.S. Therefore, it is extra important to separate the “good” plastics from the ones that can leach harmful chemicals like BPA, phthalates, lead and mercury into food, beverages and the environment. These chemicals—found in the majority of plastic, PVC and vinyl items—have been linked to enlarged male breasts, earlier puberty in girls, and increased incidence of breast, prostate and other cancers. In fact, they are so toxic, these plastic additives have been banned in Europe, Canada and an increasing number of cities and states in the U.S.

Most of us know by now to avoid toxic plastic water bottles, plastic food storageware, plastic wrap and resealable (or zipper-lock) food storage bags. (If you don’t, know you do!) But, plastic is everywhere, so toxins can be found in the places you might not know about, like the inside lining of nearly all canned food and baby formulas (BPA), toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes (BPA), plastic lunchboxes (phthalates and lead), resin composite dental sealants (BPA), plastic and vinyl jewelry and fashion items (phthalates, mercury and lead), and more.

Because children are extra susceptible to the toxins in plastics, it is especially important to make sure the plastic in your baby bottles, teething toys (or anything that ends up in your child’s mouth, like dental sealants) is safe. ( BPA-free baby products here >> )

Other than asking for BPA-free plastic at the store or at the dentist office, one way to sort out which plastics are safe is by checking the Plastic ID Code on the bottom of the item, which is that little number inside the triangle that tells you if you can recycle it.


#1 -  PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) – water and mouthwash bottles, cups, nut butter jars, and TV dinner trays; not known to leach any toxic by-products.
#2 -  HDPE (high-density polyethylene) – butter tubs, milk jugs, juice, household cleaner, and shampoo bottles; also low risk of leaching.
#4 -  LDPE (low-density polyethylene) – squeezable bottles; you probably won’t encounter many 4s, as LDPE is usually used for bags, but it also has a low risk of leaching.
#5 -  PP (polypropylene) – straws, yogurt containers, syrup, ketchup, and medicine bottles; low risk of leaching.

NOT Safe:

#3 -  PVC (polyvinyl chloride) – cooking oil bottles, food packaging, and plastic wrap; some 3s can leach phthalates, which can cause reproductive abnormalities. PVC is one of the worst environmental offenders.
#6 -  PS (polystyrene) – egg cartons, meat trays, and Styrofoam; when heated, some 6s can release styrene, a suspected carcinogen. Try to avoid food in Styrofoam containers and don’t heat Styrofoam or polystyrene in a microwave!
#7 -  Other – gallon-size water bottles, and baby bottles; some 7s are safe, but some are polycarbonates and may leach BPA.

BPA and Canned Food Safety
Many people rely on canned foods for at least part of their cooking. Canned beans, tomato sauce, coconut milk, pumpkin and more make food preparation much easier. But BPA is used to line the cans of nearly all canned goods worldwide. (Which may, in part, explain why cancer rates keep going up!)

It’s a good idea to avoid canned goods (especially canned infant formula!), choose BPA-free brands, or find the same item in a glass jar, whenever you can. As a general rule, you should assume that BPA is used in all canned goods on the grocery shelves. But, here is a list of the few companies that currently do NOT have BPA in the lining of their canned foods. Call your favorite companies (many of whom will defend their use of BPA) and maybe the list will grow!

Native Forest - Organic mango chunks, papaya chunks, pineapple chunks, tropical fruit salad, and coconut milk

Ecofish – Tuna, et. al.

Vital Choice – Tuna, et. al.

Eden Foods – Company says they  DO use BPA in tomato cans. However, organic bean cans do  NOT contain BPA. They are concerned about BPA and are looking into phasing it out of all their products.

Lucini Italia Organics - has 100% BPA-free foods packed in glass.


As scientific evidence about the dangers of BPA accumulates, and more and more cities and states are banning its use,COCA COLA and DEL MONTE are not only defending BPA as safe but are  spending millions of dollars lobbying and publicizing it’s safety to prevent regulations restricting it’s use. But the science is definitive, BPA is toxic. Don’t let these companies use pseudo-science to endanger our health in the name of profit!

Please call and voice your opinion. 1-800-get-coke ext 2

I only publish ads for small companies whose products I use, trust and am willing to affiliate with. Shopping with these sponsors not only gets you great stuff I am certain you’ll love, but also keeps this site alive. Please visit them, won’t you?


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