Plastic people

What are we eating?

April 27, 2012

Susan Freinkel, the author of the book Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, recently published an article in the Washington Post about plastic in our food. The upshot: all kinds of chemicals are leaching into our food from the plastics they’re packaged in.

Are they harming us? Maybe. Studies are conflicting when it comes to whether or not low-dose exposure to BPA can lead to health issues like heart disease, diabetes, and breast cancer. As Freinkel noted about just one of the chemicals involved, “Measuring the amount of phthalates that end up in food is notoriously difficult. Because these chemicals are ubiquitous, they contaminate equipment in even purportedly sterile labs.”

One phthalate in particular has been found in studies to be linked to male reproductive problems, thyroid dysfunction, and changes in behavior. And there are other plastics involved at nearly every step of the food-production process — prep gloves, gaskets, processing equipment, packaging, and agricultural film.

Our bodies absorb these plastics in extremely small amounts, and it is hard to know how much constitutes too much. But one study found that eating plastic-free foods for even a few days can dramatically decrease the amount of both BPA and phthalates in our bodies.

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