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Healthy Habits: How-Tos

BPA: Is There Danger in Your Kitchen?

The toxic chemical BPA could be contaminating your containers, cans and more. Here’s what to look out for.

You watch what you eat. Do you watch what you eat from?

Many of the cans and plastic containers in your cupboard may contain bisphenol-A (BPA), a toxin that can leach into food. BPA has been linked to heart disease, diabetes and other ills, and children are most at risk. “Almost every day, a new study is published indicating that BPA is harmful at remarkably low levels,” says Renee Sharp of the Environmental Working Group.
BPA Culprit No. 1: Baby Food and Drink Containers

BPA is found in baby bottles, sippy cups and canned formula for infants. Discard plastic containers with recycling code Nos. 3 or 7, which probably contain BPA. Look for products marked “BPA-free.” Also, never heat baby bottles.  And if you’re pregnant, avoid hard, clear plastics.

BPA Culprit No. 2: Food Cans

Most BPA exposure comes from the epoxy resin liners of food cans -- especially items prepared at high temperatures like soups or acidic items, such as tomatoes. Look for labels that specify a can is BPA-free. Eden Foods and Muir Glen tomato products (but not their other products) are packaged in BPA-free cans. Otherwise, search out soups and tomatoes in Tetra Paks, switch to frozen or fresh veggies or buy prepared foods in jars.
BPA Culprit No. 3: Water Plastics

Plastic water filters, pitchers and reusable water bottles are often made with BPA-laden polycarbonates. Keep liquids -- especially hot ones -- in stainless-steel containers instead of reusable water bottles. Also make sure your water filter is a BPA-free brand.
BPA Culprit No. 4: Food Processors

Bowls and lids of food processors are generally made of polycarbonate. When food hits the side repeatedly, it increases the chance that BPA will leach in -- especially if it’s hot. Search out food processors that are BPA-free, such as Hamilton Beach/Proctor Silex. Ultra-high-end Vitamix 5200 blenders are also BPA-free, but their bowls contain the mysterious Tritan plastic. Or you can go retro and get a workout with a food mill.
BPA Culprit No. 5: Coffeemakers

In coffeemakers, boiling water that touches plastic containing BPA can release the chemical up to 55 times faster than room-temperature water. Choose coffee makers with no plastic parts that touch liquid. These include single-cup brewing machines by Keurig, percolators, Moka pots and even a porcelain filter cone. Before buying other types, check on the manufacturers’ websites or call their customer service lines.

BPA Culprit No. 6: Takeout Containers

Plastic containers used for takeout and leftovers often contain BPA. Because heat increases the danger, never microwave food in plastic containers. Ask for paper or Styrofoam takeout boxes if possible, and if they are unavailable, don’t eat your takeout from the plastic container. At home, be sure to store your food in containers that are not made of hard, clear plastic or that state they are BPA-free.

BPA Culprit No. 7: Receipts

Not all BPA exposure comes from food. Much of the thermal paper used in gas station and supermarket receipts contains BPA, which can rub off on your hands and get into your system. So until BPA-free thermal paper is available, go without a receipt if you can, or make sure to wash your hands vigorously after handling them and before eating.

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