Health: Plastic Packaging Polluting Food
by Redaktion (comments: 0)
Most packaging used these days is plastic with the addition of additives for improving its properties. One major class of these additives is plasticizers, added to alter the flexibility and strength of the plastic. While plastic is very effective at protecting food from the environment, light weight, strong and cheap to manufacture, unfortunately the downside is that the additives are often unstable resulting in migration of plasticizers from the plastic into the food.
With the enormous amount of food preparation and food packaging using plastics containing plasticizers, research has been conducted in Germany to find out the consumption rate by people. It was found that at least 12 % of the population tested had an intake of the major phthalate, DEHP which was greater than the maximum recommended by the European Union Scientific Committee for Toxicity, Ecotoxicity, and Environment. 31 % had intakes greater than the recommended by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
While there is no dispute about the contamination of food through packaging, there is controversy as to its effect on human health. There is growing evidence through conclusive animal studies and some less conclusive human studies that suggests plasticizers do pose a health hazard, though at this point of time the data is anything but clear-cut.
In any case, to minimize the effects of plastic migration into your food, here are some helpful pointers to follow:
- Buy food loose or in glass and paper containers where possible
- Don’t buy oils and oily foods in plastic containers (as migration is more likely to occur with fatty food)
- consume canned oily products quickly; do not hoard (as most cans have an internal plastic coating)
- Drain the oil from canned fish products
- Refrain from using the plastic bags found on rolls in supermarkets and green grocers
- Do not use cling wrap, plastic bags or plastic containers in a microwave oven
Andrew Monk, Chairman of the Australian BFA Standards Subcommittee says “Organic tries, wherever feasible, to take a cautious stance to protect you, the consumer. Ultimately it is important to enjoy and celebrate our food - and enjoy every little victory and achievement towards a more local, in season and fresh meal wherever we can have that luxury. But it is less a luxury and more a matter of good habits than you might imagine. The choice is actually more in your own hands than you might believe – feel free to use that power!”
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