Is it safe to eat foods packaged in plastic? The answer might surprise you… 28



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Have you ever stopped to consider what that plastic wrap around your food might be doing to your health? You may have heard some plastics contain cancer-causing chemicals, or that they can make you ill. So what is the truth?

According to CHOICE, the consumer rights advocacy group, there are safer alternatives to what our food is currently being wrapped in, and they want the industry to introduce these and phase out risky plastics.

In his research of plastics’ impact on male fertility, Richard Sharpe from the University of Edinburgh’s male reproductive health group, explained this:

“Most people probably don’t understand how we are exposed to chemicals from plastics. After all, we don’t eat the plastic wraps around food or chew electric wiring. Plasticisers are chemicals used to make plastic (which is naturally hard and brittle) bendy and resistant to breaking, so prolonging its useful life. As a guide, the more flexible the plastic, the more plasticiser it will contain. The most widely used plasticisers are called phthalates, which come in different forms with different uses.

Plasticisers leach out of the plastic over time and will contaminate any food, drink or other material with which they have contact. This was the primary reason why phthalate plasticisers were removed from use in water bottles many years ago and replaced by polyethylene terephthalate, which has different properties. Nevertheless our main route of exposure to the most commonly used phthalate is still via our food/diets, even if we do not fully understand how this contamination occurs”.

Polycarbonate, found in food storage containers and bottles, and PVC, used to make bottles, seals and wraps, are the two most worrying plastics out there.

CHOICE reports that the chemicals in these plastics contain endocrine disruptors, meaning they can mimic the body’s natural hormones and thereby cause a myriad of health problems.

While these compounds are undoubtedly hazardous at high levels of exposure, scientific opinion is divided over the risk from the much lower levels that we’re exposed to every day in our food. There is, however, growing scientific evidence that even at these lower levels of exposure, phthalates and BPA may be causing problems such as infertility, obesity, breast cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

So what can we do? As you’re shopping, try to avoid fruit and vegetables wrapped in cling wrap on a styrofoam base, cut down on canned foods, and stop reheating food in plastic containers made from the more dangerous plastics – glass is preferable.

You can often identify the type of plastic from its identification code – unfortunately, this code is voluntary and you won’t find it on all plastic packaging. Look for the codes 1 (PET), 2 (HDPE), 4 (LDPE), 5 (PP) and 6 (PS). Whenever possible avoid the codes 3 (PVC) or 7 (a catch-all category that includes polycarbonate).

Tell us, do you have concerns about the amount of plastic in your foods?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I only purchase fruit and veg I have chosen, I learned a long time ago that you can’t trust the supermarkets when they package fruit and veg so you can’t see anything you would never buy.

    5 REPLY
    • totally agree and when they have those Styrofoam trays underneath, you can’t see under the fruit to see if it has any marks or bad spots

    • Always try to buy fruit and vegetables that isn’t prepacked but sometimes when you say get 4 capsicum in a bag for 99 cents , I don’t mind if one has a few spots on it although my wife still examines everything like a forensic scientist.

  2. I buy fruit and vegetables that I choose myself. They have to go in plastic bags, to buy. But always taken out when I get home!

    3 REPLY
    • If you carry your own reuseable bags then you can eliminate the plastic altogether. I have several that roll up into a small cylinder and thus sit in my handbag. They are easily washable.

    • I do have recyclable bags. But when you are buying many different fruit and veg you need to put them in bags for weighing etc.

  3. Yes,the plastics and its health issue is very worrying.So is the fact that some of the fruit never goes off! They irradiate it and I wonder if that messes with the goodness of vitamins etc? Also wonder what effect the irradiation has on us? Then don’t even start me on the pesticides they spray on everything! So when they get edgy about plastics causing hormone disruption and cancer,how can they point the finger at that only,and not look at the other harmful ways they deal with our food.

  4. I agree. However I have an orchard in back yard!! The wind split apricot tree. Half crop gone. Night marauders ate peachcots and someone is nibbling at the almonds never mind white fly in kale tomatoes requiring regular constant water feeding everything etc etc. go the farmers. They are amazing!!! Buy from the green grocer and give thanks!!!

  5. So much of our food in plastic packaging in supermarkets Why!!!! Not only a worry for our Health but also the environment

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