Is Going “BPA Free” Enough?

Bisphenol-A, or BPA, has been much demonized in recent years.

This chemical, banned in France, Canada and China, is used in plastic and aluminum containers with surprising regularity in the United States.  Part of the reasons there’s so much noise about the chemical these days is that the FDA refuses to ban it here.


Is “BPA-Free” good enough?

But some changes are on the way.  The FDA did, last year, finally ban BPA in certain baby products, including baby bottles).  And “BPA Free” stickers are popping up all over the place on water bottles and food packaging, two of the major sources of the chemical in our diets.

This is for the better.  BPA is called an “endocrine disruptor” because it mimics the presence of estrogen in our bodies.  The effects of this are uncertain, but it’s suspected to contribute to afflictions ranging from diabetes to heart disease, to breast and prostate cancer, to thyroid problems, obesity and infertility.  Perhaps most importantly, it’s believed to lead to sexual and brain development problems in children.  Children (particularly girls) exposed to BPA during pregnancy have a higher risk of depressed and hyperactive behavior.  Some think BPA is also linked to an observed decline in average age at which American girls now hit puberty.

Scary stuff.

And what’s worse, we’re starting to learn that even “BPA Free” products may not much safer.  Remove the BPA, and you typically replace it with another chemical that serves a similar function.  The most popular of these is – and no, I’m not making this up – bisphenol S, or BPS.

And BPS, unsurprisingly enough, may be just as bad as BPA.  In tests on rats, it interferes in much the same way as BPA with how our bodies respond to natural estrogen.

So, what to do?  The best way to avoid BPA, or other nasty chemicals that create the same problems for our bodies, is to avoid plastics and tins wherever possible, and regardless of whether they’re labeled “BPA free.”  This is not the easiest thing to do, particularly since when we dine out it’s difficult to know how the food we eat (including the ingredients used to make it) has been packaged.

But there are a couple simple steps you can take to get yourself started on the right track.  One is something you should be doing anyway: eating fresh fruits and vegetables.  They typically have no packaging, and so no opportunity for chemicals like BPA and BPA to leach into them.  Second, if you must use plastic packaging, avoid plastic #7 and favor plastics #1, 2 and 4.  Third, when you heat or reheat food, use glass, ceramic or (if not in a microwave) stainless steel containers.  BPA is more likely to leach when heated.  And finally, when drinking water, look to glass or stainless steel, rather than plastic, cups or water bottles.

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11 Responses to Is Going “BPA Free” Enough?

  1. misssuburbia says:

    Thank you for sharing this information with the community. It makes you wonder why we have the FDA if they only do things in favor of the companies who want to appear like they are doing us all a favor.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this article! I think too many of us are very uninformed not only about what we eat, but also about the containers our food comes in!

  3. Nicholas says:

    I had no idea. I always purchase “BPA-Free” and it makes so much sense that they would use something else in its place. I’ll stick to glass and stainless steel when possible. Thank you for the great article.

  4. I’m glad to see labeling changes making it into the hands of the consumers. Many food products these days are riddled with toxic ingredients which only seems to be getting worse.

  5. Boxtree says:

    Thank you for making us aware of the hazards of BPA. It’s great that you are trying to educate people with the ready facts. We are an online portal that hopes to spread a sustainable lifestyle among Indians and articles such as these are great encouragement. – Shop. Save.Sustain

  6. Check out the Seven Deadly ESTRO-Sins on and learn how to eliminate up to 70% of xenoestrogens in your life.

  7. Alex Clark says:

    Check out my blog for fun healthy eating!

  8. Yep, good article — removal of one chemical does often mean its replacement with another, also harmful chemical. I sometimes wonder what is taking the place of trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils), where and when they are banned. They definitely should be banned, but now I may not even know what to look for on the label.

    I try to stick to labels I can understand or, even better, food I can recognize that has one ingredient — itself.

    Re: BPA from plastic bottles, you are absolutely right — I’d rather drink tap water than plastic-bottled water. Especially in the summer when the water is purchased at a street-cart — it’s cold now, but I can taste the plastic that tells me it wasn’t cold a few hours ago. Gross. I posted an article on the water filters and distillers I use instead — much lower cost over time than buying bottled, and much better water!

  9. Never even heard of BPS, but it makes sense if they remove one ingredient, something’s got to replace it. Basically avoiding plastic in general seems to be the way to go. Thanks for sharing! – Vanessa

  10. Great post, thankyou for the info! :))

    Domi x

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