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Plastic in the Food Supply—A Cause for Concern?

By now you are probably aware that plastic is lurking in the nation’s food supply. For more than a decade, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit organization has been on the forefront of sounding the alarm and educating the public on key issues and potential health risks of plastic chemicals leaching into our food and water supply.

First of all, think about an average day. Do you drink water or juice from a plastic bottle or make your coffee from a plastic coffee pod? Do you do takeout at lunchtime? Perhaps a salad in a plastic container? What about soup or fish from a can lined with bisphenol A (BPA)? Because we live in modern times, there is a very good chance that you’ve consumed something today that has touched plastic.

There are two types of chemicals found in plastics that can adversely affect health—bisphenols and phthalates. The problem with these manmade plastic chemicals is that they can mess with hormones and interfere with the body’s ability to self-regulate. According to researchers, these so called “endocrine disruptors” are linked to infertility, child development concerns, cardiovascular problems and some cancers.

Plastic is literally everywhere you look. While it’s literally impossible to eradicate plastic from your life, there are ways to reduce your exposure to it. For example:

• Use glass, ceramic, and stainless-steel containers. If you must use plastic, pay attention the recycling code on the bottom and avoid #3, #6, and #7. Do not reheat plastic, especially in a microwave.

• Use wood or bamboo cutting boards. Plastic cutting boards wear easily and overtime micro-shards can transfer into food.

• Eat organic produce and animal products whenever possible. Phthalates can be found in conventional foods due to the pesticides used. Dairy products are known to harbor phthalates due to processing procedures and the plastic containers they are stored in.

• Avoid plastic coffee pods and nylon tea bags. Studies show that steaming or steeping hot water through these materials releases microplastics and nanoplastics into the beverages. Use paper filters or stainless mesh filters.

• Loose the plastic straws and instead opt for paper or bamboo. Or better yet, invest in reusable stainless-steel straws.

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