I do have some plastic plates from ikea and bowls too, but those will be getting switched out very very soon. And yes, my water bottles from Costco (3-pk for $18.99) are BPA free (that's why I bought them) and we use those for field trips, and the kids that are in public school use them for water there (so they don't have to drink city water .. yuck.. gag).
Bisphenol A ( aka BPA) Part I: Canning Lids and Food Grade Plastics
This is such a large issue that I’m writing about it in two parts and providing links throughout. I realize that we all are burdened with time demands so I am summarizing throughout as I write:Bisphenol A, commonly abbreviated as BPA, is an organic compound with two phenol functional groups. It is a difunctional building block of several important plastics and plastic additives. (detailed information contained on Wikipedia).
Suspected of being hazardous to humans since the 1930s, concerns about the use of Bisphenol-A in consumer products were regularly reported in the news media in 2008 after several governments issued reports questioning its safety, and some retailers have removed products made of it from their shelves. A 2010 report from the FDA raised further concerns regarding exposure of fetuses, infants, and young children.(See Wikipedia citations)
Bisphenol- A (BPA)
was first synthesized in 1891 in England. Health concerns surfaced in the 1930s. The
health effects of BPA on children was first widely recognized throughout the international manufacturing industry in about 1963. So…the manufacturers of our enameled cans, all our food grade plastics and water bottles have known for a very long time that this element, BPA, can have long-term health effects on us. The reason that these effects have not been widely publicized until the last 18 months is because the formulas used by manufacturers like Rubbermaid, Sterlite and Kerr-Ball-Benardin canning lids are “proprietary” and not subject to disclosure. Some of you might be thinking, “the FDA has enabled these manufacturers throughout time.”
The most important thing for us to know is that BPA, when leached into our food and water, can cause endocrine disruption. The endocrine system is responsible for lots of important bodily systems and to overall immune system function. The most important function of the endocrine system is its vital role in human reproduction. The most recent health concerns center about the fact that our children’s endocrine systems are in a continually developing state and the early introduction of BPA in their diets has an “unknown” effect on their future state of health and on the development of their brains, digestive systems and their ability to reproduce when they reach
child-bearing age. Although there are deep concerns expressed for the overall safety of all adults when consuming BPA, the effects on children spurred the Canadian government to remove all BPA-laden baby bottles, Sippy cups, and baby water bottles from the free market about 10 months ago. Studies are ongoing.
Yes, BPA is present in ALL mass manufactured canning lids like Ball, Kerr, Golden Harvest, Bernardin, Jardin and the list goes on and on. Our generic lids that we get from the Mennonite general store in Iowa also have clear BPA on the inside of the canning lid and in the rubber seal. I’ve presented the two options to these standard canning lids below. However, the risk of BPA to our families through canning lids is VERY SMALL. It’s so small, except in baby food jars, that I will continue to purchase generic lids until another alternative and affordable system has presented itself on the free market.
At this point, the FDA (if you still have any faith in their judgment) has not pulled any of our food grade containers off the shelves. However, we know not to heat any food in plastic containers because this leached BPA and other harmful chemicals into our food. As far as water bottles are concerned, a reminder: When you leave those water bottles in the hot car, the chemicals leach into your water. Also, newer research shows that the water molecule is able to absorb BPA WITHOUT BEING HEATED so finding a good quality reusable water
bottle is very important for each member of your family. In the next edition, I’ll pass along how you can find a non-BPA water bottle with the research that’s available.
The Risk of BPA Absorption in your Standard Canning Lids:
If you are following safe canning procedures, there is a prescribed head space called for when canning. In jam making, it’s about ¼ inch. Some foods are ½ inch and others can be even a bit more, like ¾ inch. Some of your food, while water bath or pressure canning, will splash against the jar lid where the BPA coats the inside of the lid. Risk is small.
In baby food jars, the jar goes into diaper bags, purses, daddy’s pocket and gets turned upside down, sloshed around and comes into more contact with the jar lids. Also, babies and children under the age of 16 are more susceptible to disruption of their developing endocrine system so…..find some small containers that are safe alternatives. Might have a few suggestions for you next time I write after speaking to a few moms who are on top of this.
Follow the reasoning carefully. When storing your whole grains, beans, legumes and oatmeal in food grade containers (yes, they have BPA too), you are taking a relatively small risk when storing this way. Please do not panic about this. We are all just doing the best we can with what we have available.
I am working with a representative of a Canadian firm that has developed a line of non-BPA plastics. I do not know the cost and whether or not their products will be cost-effective or functional for us. This line, however, will be available for commercial food establishments. So we have that to look forward to in the future.
When taking food for lunch that must be heated, we switched to glass Pyrex/Corning Ware containers about 6 years ago. The lid is plastic and removed when reheating. The glass containers are great in the fridge for leftovers, for the freezer, the oven and for reheating in the microwave for lunch. We took a leisurely drive to the Corning Ware Outlet Store near Burlington, WA and were able to purchase 8
Glass containers in the medium size and 4 Glass containers in the larger size. We’ve been very happy
with them. HINT: If you drop one of these on the cement garage floor, it will break (LOL).
Water Barrels: The water barrels we’ve been getting are still FDA approved. For our long term water storage we will continue to use them until the investigative reports are released to the public. Then we read, study and
decide again what to do to protect our precious resources.
The article below was published on Fake Plastic Fish a site developed by a mom who decided not to use plastics, whenever possible, in her home for 2 reasons: (1)has unknown effects on our health and (2) it contributed to excess packaging that litters our landfills.
January 13, 2009
Bisphenol-A (aka BPA): What is it? Where is it? Why do we care?
Last week, I posted a little video tour of my kitchen in which I made some remarks about BPA in canned foods. I’ve been receiving all kinds of comments and questions about this issue, so I thought I’d address it directly.
Bisphenol-A, commonly known as BPA, is a component of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. It’s been the subject of much recent concern as studies have shown it to be an endocrine disruptor that builds up in our bodies over time. Low doses may cause chronic toxicity in humans, posing the highest risk to pregant women, infants, and young children.
Bisphenol-A only poses a risk if it leaches out of the resin and into our bodies. While much focus has been on polycarbonate water and baby bottles, there is a greater danger from the epoxy linings of canned foods because of the high heats at which they are processed.
BPA in Cans
NEARLY ALL CANNED FOODS CONTAIN BPA. This fact came as a surprise to some Fake Plastic Fish readers. To date, I am only aware of three brands of canned foods that have specifically found alternatives to BPA linings (thanks to FPF reader Christy B.) These brands are:
- Eden Organics beans. Note: Eden’s canned tomatoes do contain BPA.
3. Vital Choice
A December 26, 2008 article from Natural News confirms that as of this writing, these are the only BPA-free brands of canned foods.
There has been some misunderstanding about whether or not Trader Joe’s uses BPA in its cans because of some faulty information provided by its customer service reps. Please check out the discussion in the comments of this Mama Knows Breast blog post for some enlightenment about trusting the statements of customer service reps. Trader Joe’s cans do, in fact, contain BPA.
And what about Whole Foods? They have eliminated BPA-containing bottles from their stores, but Whole Foods’ Statement on BPA does not mention cans. The writer of the Family Health & Safety blog published a response from Whole Foods about a year ago stating that there is BPA in their cans. I personally left a phone message on January 9 with Whole Foods corporate office about BPA lining in 365 Brand cans. (512) 477-5566 x20020. I have not heard back yet. I believe we can safely assume that until Whole Foods publishes otherwise, their 365 Organics canned foods do contain BPA.!
BPA in plastic bottles & containers
BPA is a monomer in polycarbonate plastics, including hard plastic water bottles, baby bottles, the large bottles on the top of water coolers, and the container found on your Cuisinart and other plastic food processor, blender, and juicer containers. (In April 2008, Vita-Mix announced a new BPA-free model, but previous models do contain BPA.) This is why I have mostly stopped using my food processor and opt instead to use my blender with glass pitcher. (I do wonder what kind of plastic is in the bottom.) Other possible items made from polycarbonate are hard plastic drinking cups, plates, and bowls.
Brita pitchers, by the way, are not made from polycarbonate and do not contain BPA.
CDs and DVDs are also made from polycarbonate, as are eye glasses and other hard plastic items. However, since we don’t eat many of these, I think we’re safe. They do carry the pollution hazards of all plastics, of course.
Polycarbonate plastic carries the #7 recycling symbol. But not all #7s are polycarbonate, unfortunately. #7 is a catch-all for plastics that don’t fit into the first 6 categories, including bio-based plastics. The suggestion from consumer groups is if you are trying to avoid BPA, it’s best to avoid all hard #7 plastics unless they specifically state they are BPA-free. Still, you won’t know what else could be leaching from them, will you? My personal suggestion is to opt for glass whenever possible.
If you do choose to use polycarbonate, you can minimize your risk in several ways: don’t fill them with hot foods, don’t wash them in the dishwasher, and don’t scratch them or use harsh detergents or abrasives on them. Rough handling breaks down the plastic and can cause the BPA to leach more than it otherwise might have.
(end of Fake Plastic Fish blog entry)
Alternatives to Standard Canning Lids that contain BPA:
The Weck Canning System consists of beautiful glass jars with rubbers and lids. No BPA is present in the rubber seals. The link to see the jars and read a bit about the canning system is http://www.weckcanning.com/docs/canning_spotlight.htm
The downside of the system is that the jars are very expensive, not readily accessible and must be shipped at a large expense to you. The rubber seals are proprietary and are difficult if not possible to obtain locally.
Furthermore, we do not know how long the seals will store safely. Standard canning lids store safely for 5 years and often much longer if stored properly. We don’t know if these rubber seals in the Weck system break down in heat etc.
Tattler makes reusable canning lids out of a non-BPA polymer. I have never seen or sued them but the inventor’s testimony and product information is contained at
The polymer Vita-Mix container DOES contain BPA. Discountjuicers.com has developed a new carafe for your Vita-Mix that is BPA-free. You can view their video about how to change out the Vita-Mix container blades for the BPA-free version on this 3 minute video: