If you’re concerned about what you eat, you should be concerned about the packaging your food comes in.
When you think about a healthy lifestyle, the first picture that strikes your mind is that of green vegetables, fresh fruits, colourful balanced meals, lots of water, so on and so forth. You might do everything to improve your health like consuming organic food, drinking clean water, or eating more fruits and vegetables, and remain unhealthy. So, what’s the problem with your food?
Believe it or not, the packaging your food comes in can harm you greatly.
Obesity, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other health problems are only a few of the short- and long-term dangers associated with chemicals in packaging. Some health advocates believe it is long past time to phase out some of the more dangerous compounds that come into contact with your food.
Chemicals like BPAs, PFAs, phthalates, PVCs have been discovered in plastic food packaging, soda can linings, and canned foods. Endocrine disruptors are a term used to describe these chemicals. These chemicals function like hormones, turning on or off the body’s natural hormone signals to block or activate natural responses or unnecessary action.
Because of the importance of packaging in the food industry and its effect on food safety, the FSSAI has established separate packaging regulations. The primary goal of packaging is to protect food from microbiological, chemical, physical, and ambient contamination, as well as to preserve the food and protect the health of consumers.
Food protection and safety necessitate the use of packaging. The FSSAI packaging regulations lay out a suggested list of packaging materials for various food groups. The packaging materials used for packaging and storing food products must comply with the Indian standards specified in the schedules, according to the regulations.
These regulations will supersede all previous provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2011, that pertain to packaging requirements, and will require full compliance by July 1, 2019.
Though there are regulations for packaging, still, there are many food packaging that contains harmful chemicals. So what is this packaging?
There has been an increase in take-out or ordering in culture in recent times, and people prefer having food on their tables with ease of a click with apps like Zomato, Uber Eats, Swiggy, etc. The hot food coming out of the takeaway container sure looks delectable.
When hot foods are stored in containers, however, chemicals from the package will leach into the food and, as a result, into our bodies. There are the more blatant offenders, such as polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam, which is a known carcinogen.
According to a recent survey, nearly two-thirds of paper takeout containers had a high fluorine content, indicating that they had been handled with PFAS. In laboratory animals, PFAS causes reproductive, developmental, liver, kidney, and other issues. It also results in a low birth rate and thyroid problems.
Brown or white paper boxes made of 100 per cent recycled paperboard with a seal indicating they are compostable is the best takeout containers.
BPA is frequently used to line aluminium containers. BPA has been phased out of infant formula and bottle packaging, but it remains in water bottles and food packaging. Breast and prostate cancers, infertility, and metabolic disorders have all been related to BPA, also known as an endocrine disruptor. Only the smallest dose of these chemicals is thought to cause severe, lasting, and lifelong effects like breast and prostate cancers, infertility, and metabolic disorders.
Using BPA-free containers is a good choice but a problem too. These containers are manufactured with oil and resin substitutes. So, the best alternative to aluminium cans is glass containers.
The coffee served in these coffee shops does not appear to be harmful. However, most paper cups are filled with plastic, which prevents the coffee from leaking. This suggests that the steaming hot liquids are mixing with plastic. It’s certainly not as clean, as heated plastic is more likely to leach.
Just take a minute out and grab a tumbler with you when you go to coffee shops.
Some customers may believe that plastic-wrapped fruits and vegetables are safer than those that aren’t. Crinkly or clingy packaging, on the other hand, can introduce chemicals into your food. Phthalates, one of the most common endocrine disruptors, are almost certainly present in the wrapping. However, most plastic films are not labelled, making it difficult to determine which chemicals are present.
Purchase fruits and vegetables that haven’t been packaged in any way. Better still, buy your produce at a nearby farmer’s market to reduce the carbon footprint of your food.
Consumers are advised to stay away from three types of plastic: those with the recycling symbols 3,6, and 7.
No. 3 is mainly used in takeout containers and is made of polyvinyl chloride. It has been discovered that it emits phthalates, which are hormone disruptors that may lead to childhood obesity, cardiovascular disease, and male genital growth.
No. 6 can also be used in takeout containers. It can release Styrene when heated, which induces depression and weakness, as well as affecting kidney function when taken in high doses.
BPA is present in No. 7 and can be found in large water bottles. Endocrine disruptors, such as BPA, have been linked to cancer, metabolic disorders, and infertility.
Plastic-lined takeout boxes should be avoided. Plastics with the words “greenware” or “bio-based” on the label are less harmful.
Most plastic storage containers and vessels advertise themselves as “microwave safe.” However, there is no substitute for microwave-safe plastic. When you heat plastic in the microwave, chemicals will leach into the food you’re about to eat.
Well, this one is a no-brainer! Stop putting plastic utensils, containers, and packaging in the microwave.
Although going for organic food options, drinking enough water, eating the right vegetables and fruits is a great way to strive for being healthy, one can’t avoid the importance of the containers and packaging that your food comes in and you eat from. Looking above, you can see how badly humans are surrounded by chemicals even while practising a healthy lifestyle.
If you follow the above-given tips and suggestions, you’d definitely reduce the chemicals you intake unknowingly through food packaging.
You need to become an aware consumer and see to it that what you’re buying and consuming is safe for you and the planet.