Last month we wrote about plastics and the potential health hazards some can present for food preparation and storage because of the inclusion of the chemicals biphenyl-A (BPA) and phthalates. Here we show you ways to identify plastics to help determine which are safe and resources on popular brands of food storage products.
Look for the Triangle
Look for the recycle triangle on the bottom of plastic containers, lids, and other plastic items that come into contact with food. Inside the recycle triangle is a number. Only numbers 3, 6, and sometimes 7 contain BPA, which research has shown may be a cause for health concerns, especially for infants and children. Numbers 1, 2, 4, and 5 have no known health issues. For more information about plastic designations, recycle codes, and the types of products made with each plastic resin, visit the Plastic Packaging Resins identification chart at the American Chemistry Council website.
Plastic Codes 1, 2, 4, 5
It is recommended to not microwave any kind of plastic and to wash them by hand instead of in the dishwasher.
Food Storage Products
Most company websites provide information about what plastics and resins their products’ contain. Many well-known brands have begun to produce BPA-free and/or phthalate-free food storage products.
Glad’s website states that none of its food storage containers and cling wraps contain BPA or phthalates, according to a 2008 declaration.
Rubbermaid has a page on their website to help consumers identify which containers contain BPA. They are introducing a “BPA-free” logo on the bottom of new products that do not contain the chemical. The website claims all products made from January, 2010 onwards are BPA-free, and do not contain dioxins or phthalates.
Tupperware claims that less than 10% of their products contain BPA, and that they traditionally have not included the recycle triangle because their products come with lifetime guarantees. According to their website, they are going to add the triangle to future products and are finding alternatives for the BPA-containing plastics they have used in the past. They offer a 2010 guide to the types of plastic materials used in their products. The website does not mention phthalates.
By Rebecca Taggart