Monday, November 17, 2008


I've been having interesting conversations recently about plastic. People have VERY polarized reactions about the safety of today's plastic, particularly when it comes to the microwave.

For example, check out this article from the Daily Green:
In the latest revelation about the chemical industry and its lax federal watchdogs, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has found that plastic containers marked "microwave safe" are anything but.

These containers, marketed to parents as being safe for infants, release "toxic doses" of Bisphenol-A when heated, the paper found.

"The amounts detected were at levels that scientists have found cause neurological and developmental damage in laboratory animals," the paper reports. "The problems include genital defects, behavioral changes and abnormal development of mammary glands. The changes to the mammary glands were identical to those observed in women at higher risk for breast cancer."

The investigation also found Bisphenol-A in additional products — not just hard, clear plastics and the lining of cans. BPA "is present in frozen food trays, microwaveable soup containers and plastic baby food packaging" — and not only in plastics marked No. 7, but in Nos. 1, 2 and 5 as well, according to the report.

The report reminds us that "microwave safe" — like so many packaging claims — is pure marketing. The phrase is not regulated by the government, and its use is not subject to any independently verifiable guidelines.

The Journal Sentinel has been leading the effort to understand Bisphenol-A, which was developed as a synthetic estrogen, but which has come to be widely used in consumer products and food packaging. While independent and government scientists have increasingly raised concerns about the chemical, the Food and Drug Administration, in choosing not to regulate its use, has so far side with the chemical industry, which claims the chemical is safe. Canada has declared it unsafe, and is moving to restrict its use in products designed for use by infants.

Read the paper's full account.

7 Steps to Avoid Bisphenol A
Tips from the Journal Sentinel

Do not microwave food or beverages in plastic.
Do not microwave or heat plastic cling wraps.
Do not place plastics in the dishwasher.
If using hard polycarbonate plastics (water bottles, baby bottles or sippy cups), do not use for warm or hot liquids.
Use safe alternatives such as glass.
Avoid canned foods when possible (BPA may be used in can linings).
Look for labels on products that say "BPA-free."

There are some folks in my life that need to change their ways.

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