The Health Blog

Issues in Food Safety

If your cupboard is filled with plastic containers, you should take note of the recent recommendations provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The article looks at the presence of chemicals that may be particularly harmful to sensitive children and infants. The issue is that there are "more than 10000 chemicals" that we are exposed to in our food/containers, however that list was last revised in 1958 (in the US). Research has provided new recommendations in avoiding many of these chemicals. As a better known example, bisphenols which were found in linings of cans and also in plastics are now largely avoided. 


While not the main point of the article, revised guidelines are provided pertaining to the types of plastics that can cause us harm. Specifically, they caution against the use of plastics with recycling codes 3, 6, or 7. These plastics contain phthalates (3), styrene (6) and bisphenols (7).


Phthalates "influence … lipid and carbohydrate metabolism … with specific effects that produce insulin resistance". Some are also known to be "antiandrogenic and affect fetal reproductive development". Bisphenols (BPA to be exact), "trigger the conversion of cells to adipocytes, disrupt pancreatic beta cell function in vivo and affect glucose transport in adipocytes". 


Other general recommendations from the article are:

 • Prioritize consumption of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables when possible, and support that effort by developing a list of low-cost sources for fresh fruits and vegetables.

 • Avoid processed meats, especially maternal consumption during pregnancy.

 • Avoid microwaving food or beverages (including infant formula and pumped human milk) in plastic, if possible.

 • Avoid placing plastics in the dishwasher.

 • Use alternatives to plastic, such as glass or stainless steel, when possible.

 • Encourage hand-washing before handling foods and/or drinks, and wash all fruits and vegetables that cannot be peeled.


In the end, it is the goal of the article to shed light on the amount of chemicals in our food or in contact with our food. These can be particularly damaging to children or infants because of greater exposure (to lesser weight) or developing physiology that is more susceptible to permanent disruption. 


Source: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2018/07/19/peds.2018-1408

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