Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Our Plastic Society

This week's Healthy Eating Month post isn't going to focus so much on food, but what we keep our food in.  The Tupperware, Rubbermaid, and plastic food container business makes millions each year.  They are cheap to make, affordable, reusable, and do their job.  The only problem is that they are not good for your health.

Plastic containers of all sorts contain cancer-causing chemicals.  It's actually been proven since 1987 that some plastics have cancer causing agents when breast cancer cells were being cultured in plastic test tubes.  The researchers noticed that the cells grew like gangbusters and finally found the cause; chemicals being leached from the test tubes were "feeding" the cancer cells.

Since 1987, there have been numerous studies showing the link between plastics and cancer.  The sad thing is that the word hasn't really gotten out until recently.  If you recall, over the past few years, there has been an insurgence in the effort to remove the chemical BPA from plastics.  If you especially look at baby food storage containers, if they are plastic, most will say "BPA Free".  However, that doesn't mean that all plastics are BPA free and free of other cancer causing chemicals.  One good way to tell is to look at the recycling number on the bottom.

BPA containers (avoid at all costs):  #3, 6, or 7
"Generally safe" containers:  #4 or 5
"Safest":  #1 or 2

With that said, you should never heat anything up, or put something hot, in a plastic container.  Anytime you add heat to plastic, it WILL leach some chemicals out of the plastic into the food or drink.  It doesn't matter if that chemical has been linked to cancer or not.  Any lab produced chemical is a foreign substance to your body and should be avoided.

So what should you use?

Glass and ceramic containers are a far better option as opposed to plastic containers.  So if you need to use the microwave to heat up your left over frittata, take it out of the Rubbermaid, put it on a glass or ceramic plate, then nuke it.

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