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In the News: Are you Eating Plastic for Dinner?

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How you Store your Food Impacts your Health

Phasing out the most toxic substances that come into contact with our food is long overdue. Until then, it’s more important than ever to use your own safe containers, cups, straws, bags and utensils. According to The Guardian, “Many of those seemingly safe containers may have hazardous chemicals lurking inside.” Read the recent news below to see if plastic might be on the menu at your house.

Food packaging is full of toxic chemicals – here’s how it could affect your health

A recent article in The Guardian discusses the possible toxins we are exposed to from single-use wrappers and containers, and suggests healthier alternatives. When food is placed or stored in some throwaway containers, chemicals from the packaging material can leach into the food and ultimately our bodies. About 63% of paper containers and 11% of bakery and deli papers from the country’s five largest grocery stores contained high levels of fluorine and were most likely treated with PFAS, according to a study from Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families and Toxic-Free Future. PFAS are a family of nearly 5,000 synthetic chemicals that are extremely persistent in the environment and in our bodies (source: CNN).

Aluminum and steel cans are also likely to be lined with unhealthy plastic additives. And the most concerning plastics (numbers 3,6 and 7) are also commonly found in takeout containers, takeout boxes and plastic bottles. Plastic is also likely lurking in the lining of your paper coffee cup.

People eat at least 50,000 plastic particles a year, study finds

That’s right, according to a study by Environmental Science and Technology, we’re often eating plastic micro-particles that come from degraded throwaway plastic. Microplastics get into our food and drinks from packaging, but also through our soil, air and water. Study participants who drank bottled water had a higher plastic intake than those who drank tap water.

The study’s lead researcher said he will “definitely steer away from plastic packaging and try to avoid bottled water as much as possible. Removing single-use plastic from your life and supporting companies that are moving away from plastic packaging is going to have a non-trivial impact.”

Healthier recommendations

To avoid ingesting plastic, The Guardian recommends buying produce that is free of any sort of packaging, stocking up on produce at a farmer’s market, bringing your own reusable tumbler to the coffee shop, and not putting plastic products in the microwave.

We recommend taking it a step further: bring reusable containers to the grocery store to avoid purchasing as much as possible in plastic. Seemingly everything these days comes in plastic, including nuts, pasta, cereal and baking ingredients. It’s easy to shop the bulk bins to avoid disposable packaging altogether. Be sure to use reusable bulk containers with etched tare weights for easy checkout. Bring reusable containers when you order takeout or bring home leftovers.

Avoiding throwaway takeout containers, cups, bags and utensils are not only good for the planet, they’re good for you too. Read more about reducing your exposure to plastic.