Wellness

Should we use Plastics in the Kitchen?


The subject of plastic pollution has been around for a while, with heart wrenching videos of sea creatures and birds suffering as a result of our carelessness. The question of plastic use in kitchens is a somewhat lesser visible issue, though just as important in my opinion, as plastic pollution.

Many of us are removing plastics from our home kitchens and replacing them with recycled glass jars left over from jams and pickles and the like, though without a great deal of understanding.

The purpose of this article is to highlight some key points about the use of plastics in our kitchens. As always, this article is a summary of different research papers and organisational findings.

My effort is to use authoritative sources of information and create a logical flow for you to quickly get to the heart of the matter. For my more detail oriented readers, references are cited in the article as well as present at the end for you to check my facts, interpretations and overall accuracy, all of which I encourage you to do. For simplicity’s sake, technical terms have been replaced with their everyday equivalents, such as ‘plastic’ instead of ‘polycarbonate plastic’

Bisphenol A or BPA is a chemical that is used in the production of plastics, lining of metal and glass food containers and beverage bottles among other uses [1][2].

BPA is an Endocrine Disrupting Chemical (EDC). [2]

An EDC is a term used for chemicals that can interfere with hormone action, to which we are exposed to from natural as well as man-made sources. Strong evidence points towards adverse health effects resulting from our exposure to EDC. [2]

Due to the widespread use of BPA, its presence has been found in humans, food and house dust. The amount of BPA found circulating within humans has been associated with the following health issues in adults: [2]

  • Infertility
  • Recurrent Loss of pregnancy
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Hypertension

In children, circulating BPA has been associated with [2]

  • Obesity
  • Behavioural issues

Additionally, EDCs are also associated with the risk of breast cancer [3].

Note that products advertised as ‘BPA-free’ use other chemical compounds, which have estrogenic effects comparable to that of BPA [4]. Estrogenic Activity (EA) is in turn associated with the following adverse health effects [5]

  • Early puberty in females
  • Reduced sperm counts in males
  • Altered functions of reproductive organs
  • Obesity
  • Increased rates of some types of cancers
    • Breast cancer
    • Ovarian cancer
    • Testicular cancer
    • Prostate cancer

Conclusion: Avoid the use of plastics in kitchens and for the storage of food. If you cannot avoid doing so for any reason, avoid the storage of liquids and ensure storage at room temperature.

References:

  1. Bisphenol A (BPA): Use in Food Contact Application
  2. Bisphenol A: A Model Endocrine Disrupting Chemical With a New Potential Mechanism of Action
  3. Breast cancer risk in relation to occupations with exposure to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors: a Canadian case–control study
  4. A Hard Nut to Crack: Reducing Chemical Migration in Food-Contact Materials
  5. Most Plastic Products Release Estrogenic Chemicals: A Potential Health Problem That Can Be Solved
What did you think of this post?

One thought on “Should we use Plastics in the Kitchen?

  1. Very informative and thoughtful article.

    Scientifically, as mentioned in the article and the sources quoted, use of plastic must be avoided as much as we can, especially in the kitchen – due to health and environmental reasons.

    Logically also glass and non-plastic containers makes much more sense due to ease of cleaning, it being much more hygienic, and aesthetically also it looks much better. Not to mention, it is overall cheaper as in case of glass containers, we can re-purpose the bottles and jars and in the long run we don’t pay the price of polluting the environment for our future generations.

    We use 90-95% glass and other non-plastic containers in the kitchen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *