If the food’s in plastic, what’s in the food? (Washington Post, 4/16/2012)


A new article in the Washington Post about chemicals used in food packaging leads with a study published by the Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute that demonstrated a significant dip in families' BPA and phthalate levels when they cut packaged food from their diets for just a few days. How common are these chemicals and what can be done to protect people from exposure?:

[S]cientists are beginning to piece together data about the ubiquity of chemicals in the food supply and the cumulative impact of chemicals at minute doses. What they’re finding has some health advocates worried.

This is “a huge issue, and no [regulator] is paying attention,” says Janet Nudelman, program and policy director at the Breast Cancer Fund, a nonprofit that focuses on the environmental causes of the disease. “It doesn’t make sense to regulate the safety of food and then put the food in an unsafe package.”

How common are these chemicals? Researchers have found traces of styrene, a likely carcinogen, in instant noodles sold in polystyrene cups. They’ve detected nonylphenol — an estrogen-mimicking chemical produced by the breakdown of antioxidants used in plastics — in apple juice and baby formula. They’ve found traces of other hormone-disrupting chemicals in various foods: fire retardants in butter, Teflon components in microwave popcorn, and dibutyltin — a heat stabilizer for polyvinyl chloride — in beer, margarine, mayonnaise, processed cheese and wine. They’ve found unidentified estrogenic substances leaching from plastic water bottles. (Read complete article.)

Learn more about chemicals linked to breast cancer that are found in food and food packaging.


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