With PFAS, BPA is a substance that are commonly used in food packaging. Is it safe to use with packaging that contain BPA? What do you have to know about BPA? Discover in our today blog.
What is BPA?
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used to make polycarbonate plastic. Polycarbonate plastic is used to make hard plastic items, such as baby bottles, re-useable water bottles, food containers, pitchers, tableware and other storage containers.
What are the features of BPA?
While BPA has many characteristics, the following are the ones that make it well-liked:
- Extremely strong and long-lasting: Perfect for transparent, rigid plastics like food containers and drink bottles.
- High temperatures can be reached without warping or melting thanks to its good thermal stability.
- It can be used to line food cans and medical devices since it is resistant to chemicals and solvents.
- Colorless and transparent: This doesn't change how food and drinks look.
- Reasonably priced: This makes it an economical option for manufacturers.
But BPA also possesses a few potentially harmful characteristics:
- Endocrine disruptor: May cause health issues by interfering with the body's hormonal balance.
- Leaching: Plastic may leach into food and drink, particularly when heated or when the contents are acidic.
- Environmental issues: BPA leaking into the atmosphere has the potential to destroy ecosystems and wildlife.
Why is BPA popularly Used in Food Packaging?
The widespread use of BPA in food packaging stems from a complex interplay of factors, including:
Versatility and Performance:
- Sturdy and Solid: Polycarbonate plastics, which are perfect for bottles, containers, and lids, are incredibly sturdy and resistant to breaking because BPA is their main component. This lessens waste and damage while being transported and stored.
- Lightweight: BPA-based plastics are lightweight in comparison to other materials, which lowers fuel consumption and transportation costs while also having a positive environmental impact.
- Heat Resistant: BPA enables containers to tolerate both high and low temperatures, which makes them appropriate for a range of food kinds, including microwaveable and frozen dinners.
- Transparent: Polycarbonate has outstanding clarity, making food packaging contents visible to consumers and influencing their purchasing decisions.
- Bacteria Barrier: BPA-containing epoxy resins line cans and lids, forming a barrier that keeps germs out and prolongs shelf life while reducing the degradation of food.
- Affordable to Produce: BPA is less expensive to produce than substitute materials, which means that manufacturers can charge less for packaging and that consumers may be able to purchase more reasonably priced goods.
- Reduces Food Waste: By extending shelf life, BPA reduces food deterioration and waste, saving money along the supply chain and benefiting both producers and consumers by lowering costs and increasing fresh food availability.
What Is the Problem of BPA?
While it has been widely used for decades, questions about its potential health and environmental impacts have emerged.
Possible health risks:
Because BPA is an endocrine disruptor, it may cause hormonal imbalances in the body. Hormones are involved in many vital processes, such as development, metabolism, and reproduction, so this is a serious issue. There is some evidence that suggests exposure to BPA may cause health issues, including:
- Early puberty: Studies have shown a link between BPA exposure and earlier puberty in girls.
- Infertility: Some animal studies have suggested that BPA exposure may harm fertility in both males and females.
- Metabolic disorders: BPA has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
- Cancer: Some studies have suggested a link between BPA exposure and an increased risk of certain cancers, such as breast cancer and prostate cancer.
It's important to keep in mind that there is conflicting information on BPA; other studies have not discovered any connection between BPA exposure and health issues. More study is needed to fully understand the dangers linked with BPA exposure.
- BPA pollution: BPA can leach from products into food, water, and even dust, contaminating the environment and potentially harming wildlife.
- Plastic waste: BPA-containing plastics are not always recyclable, contributing to the global plastic pollution crisis.
BPA in Food Packaging
Rules for using BPA in food packaging
While there is still debate about BPA, there are limits on its use in food packaging to reduce the potential harm it can cause. The rules for using BPA in food packaging vary depending on the region and specific application.
- Migration limit: BPA migration from materials in contact with food is limited to 0.05 mg/kg of food by the majority of regulatory bodies. This implies that food-borne BPA leaking cannot go above this limit.
- Safety for newborns and children: Products intended for these age groups are subject to stricter restrictions. For example, the European Union (EU) has reduced migration limits for various food contact materials meant for infants and toddlers and outlaws BPA in baby feeding bottles.
- Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP): To guarantee safe production and reduce BPA migration, manufacturers must abide by GMP regulations. This entails managing the time, temperature, and other elements that may influence leaching.
- EU: The EU has the most extensive laws governing BPA in products that come into contact with food. They include, in contrast to plastic materials, a lower varnish migration limit and particular limitations for thermal paper.
- USA: BPA is regulated as an indirect food additive by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They assess and allow certain usage based on safety considerations, but they haven't imposed a blanket prohibition.
- Health Canada has set migration limits and safety criteria that are comparable to those set forth by the FDA.
- China: The country has its own BPA laws, which include a 0.05 mg/kg migration limit for the majority of items that come into contact with food.
What Food Packaging Contains BPA?
If you are concerned about BPA exposure, there are a few items to avoid to reduce your risk, including:
- Polycarbonate plastic: This clear, hard plastic is often used in water bottles, food containers, and lids. Look for the recycling code "7" on the bottom.
- Epoxy resins: These line the inside of some metal food cans, such as canned soup and vegetables.
- Thermal paper receipts: The coating on these receipts can contain BPA, which can transfer to your skin and potentially into your body.
What Food Containers are BPA free?
There are several excellent BPA-free food container options. These are some popular options, divided down by material:
- Glass: This traditional, secure, and inert substance doesn't contaminate your food with dangerous chemicals. It's perfect for keeping dry products, salads, and leftovers. Due to its weight and breakability, exercise caution.
- Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is a great material for lunchboxes, travel mugs, and food storage containers since it is strong, lightweight, and BPA-free. Although it is simple to clean and naturally antimicrobial, it might not be microwave-safe.
- Silicone: Another well-liked material that provides flexibility, heat resistance, and BPA-free qualities is food-grade silicone. It works great with reusable lids, food pouches, and baking molds. On the other hand, silicone may eventually stain and absorb strong flavors.
How do I know if my food packaging is BPA free?
There are several ways to check if your food packaging is BPA-free:
- Explicit "BPA-free" statement: This is the most clear and trustworthy evidence. "BPA-free," "Made without BPA," or "0% BPA" are possible ways to phrase it.
- Logos: For added emphasis, some businesses utilize particular logos alongside the "BPA-free" lettering. Look for "Safer Choice" certificates or badges from groups such as the Breast Cancer Fund.
- Material type: Because certain materials are naturally BPA-free, their inclusion on the label can be a helpful indicator. Inspect "glass," "ceramic," "stainless steel," or "bamboo."
- Look for the recycling symbol (usually a triangle with a number inside) on the bottom of the container. While not foolproof, it can offer some clues:
- Codes 2, 4, and 5: Generally considered safer and less likely to contain BPA.
- Code 3 and 7: May contain BPA, so proceed with caution.
- Code 1 and 6: No BPA risk.
In summary, BPA is a chemical that is frequently found in food packaging, although there is still a lot of controversy over its effects on consumer health. To avoid health risks for consumers, choose the type of packaging while using.