When you talk about leading a healthy life, what’s the first thing that strikes your mind?
Isn’t that healthy food?
Yes, it is. We all need healthy food to live a healthy life but do you know that it’s not just the fast food that can harm us but rather even the containers and crockeries can do the same.
Most of us are trying our best to remain healthy – be it buying organic food, drinking filtered water, including more fruits and vegetables in our diet and so on. But we don’t pay attention to the plastic in which our organic vegetables are wrapped in or the plastic bottles holding our filtered water. Plastic is present everywhere from toys to baby bottles to the lining of milk cartons. There are chances that the packaging that surrounds our food may be just as influential on our health as what is inside.
Various chemicals like Bisphenol A(BPA), phthalates and PCV (polyvinyl chloride) have been found in plastic food packaging, the linings of soda cans and canned foods. These chemicals are often referred to as endocrine disruptors. These chemicals mimic our natural hormones, turning on or off the body’s native hormone signals to block natural responses or trigger excessive action.
BPA disrupts the way our hormones communicate, and may, in certain amounts, lead to fertility issues, impaired brain function, type-2 diabetes, obesity, and even cancer. But according to a recent study, even the BPA-free plastic can release “estrogen-chemicals” into food and beverages as well.
FSSAI has created separate packing regulations as it recognizes the importance of packaging in the food sector and its impact on food safety. The primary objective of packaging is to protect the food contents from microbiological, chemical, physical and atmospheric contamination and preserve the food and also to protect consumer’s health.
The packaging is essential for promoting food safety. The regulations specify the suggestive list of packaging materials for different food categories. According to the regulations, the packaging materials used for packing and storing the food products shall conform to the Indian standards provided in the schedules.
These regulations shall replace all prior provisions under the Food Safety and Standards Regulations,2011, that are specific to packaging requirements and require full compliance in the country by 1 July 2019.
As these chemicals are causing a lot of harm to our body, the question arises how to avoid these chemicals and what replaces these materials?
The aluminum cans are often lined with BPA. Companies have stopped using BPA in packaging for baby formula and bottles but it persists in water bottles and food packaging.BPA also referred to as an endocrine disruptor is linked to breast and prostate cancers, infertility and metabolic disorders.
It is believed that even the lowest dose of these chemicals can cause serious, permanent and lifelong consequences.
It is recommended that even if the label claims to be “BPA-free”, we should avoid the aluminum cans as those products can also be problematic. It is suggested to have drinks and food items in a glass as well as fruits and vegetables not in a can.
The coffee that you have at these coffee shops may not look harmful. But most paper cups are coated with plastic, which keeps them from leaking your coffee. That means these steaming liquids are getting mixed with plastic. It surely is not as safe as plastic is more likely to leach when it’s heated.
The best alternative is to take your tumbler to the coffee shop to protect yourself and the environment.
Convenient food delivery apps have made it easier than ever before to order food to the couch. But when hot products are placed in containers, chemicals from the box can leach into the food and, in turn, our bodies. Apart from BPA, polystyrene commonly called Styrofoam is also present there. Styrofoam is a known carcinogen. Many cities have banned Styrofoam coffee cups, plates, and to-go boxes.
According to a recent study, it was found that nearly two-thirds of paper takeout containers contained a high level of fluorine, which meant they were treated with PFAS. PFAS causes reproductive, developmental, liver, kidney and other problems in laboratory animals. It also causes low birth rate and thyroid disruption.
The best alternative is the brown and white paper boxes composed of 100% recycled paperboard, which have a seal to indicate they are compostable.
Many plastic storage containers and vessels claim to be “microwave safe”. But the truth is that there is nothing as microwave-safe plastic. Any plastic when heated in the microwave could lead to chemicals entering into the food you are about to eat.
The only thing that can be done here is to avoid putting plastic products in the microwave.
It is recommended to the consumers to avoid three plastics – the plastics that have the recycling symbol number 3,6 and 7.
No 3 is made from polyvinyl chloride and is mostly found in takeout containers. It is found that it releases phthalates which act as a hormone disruptor and may contribute to childhood obesity, cardiovascular disease and it also interferes with male genital development.
No 6 is also found in takeout boxes. When heated, it could release Styrene which causes depression and fatigue and it also affects kidney function when taken in high dose.
No 7 contains BPA and is found in large water bottles. BPA is the endocrine disruptor and is associated with cancer, metabolic disorders, and infertility.
It is advised to avoid the plastic-lined takeout boxes. Plastic products labeled with the terms “greenware” or “bio-based” are less harmful.
Many consumers assume that fruits and vegetables wrapped in plastic are cleaner than those that are not. But these packaging introduces chemicals that could infiltrate your food. These type of plastic wrapping contains phthalates, one of the most widespread endocrine disruptor.
It is said to purchase fruits and vegetables free from any sort of packaging.
Even though we try our best to remain healthy, certain things affect us. The packaging of food is one such thing. Most of the packages are plastics which contains BPA, phthalate, Styrofoam. These are referred to as endocrine disruptors and can harm your bodies. Most of these are associated with cancer, obesity, kidney and liver dysfunction and fertility issues.
I urge you to pay attention to what you eat and how it is packaged. Even if you follow only one of the above tips, you will be making a difference.
So, now if you want to keep your consumers happy and healthy, it’s time for you to check the quality of your packaging. With Sigma Test, you can get your food packaging test without going through unnecessary hassles.