Don’t Microwave Children’s Food In Plastic Containers, Avoid Dishwasher, Doctors Warn
We’re all familiar with the dangers of heating food in plastic containers (and if any of us are unfamiliar with this, then prepare to be educated!). There are actually harmful chemicals in plastic that, when heated, are able to leach into whatever food is being microwaved and then enter a person’s body through ingestion. These chemicals can potentially increase one’s risk of high blood pressure and insulin resistance, which, according to a series of studies out of NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, is especially concerning since hypertension and insulin resistance are so closely linked to prediabetes and are risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Because of the dangers of plastic, the American Academy of Pediatrics is specifically calling for much stronger federal food safety requirements. These calls come along with warnings to families, discouraging the use of microwaving or dishwashing plastic containers. (1, 2, 3)
Pediatricians Are Calling for Stronger Federal Food Safety Requirements
A report was published recently in which pediatricians gathered information and cited the growing evidence against chemicals found in food colorings, preservatives, and also a great many food packaging materials. According to this report, “An increasing number of studies suggest some food additives can interfere with a child’s hormones, growth, and development, according to the policy statement and accompanying the technical report. Some may also increase the risk of childhood obesity, rates of which have tripled since the 1970s.” (1, 4)
Leonardo Trasande, AAP Council on Environmental Health Member, and lead author on the policy statement, informed the public that “This report outlines not only safe and essentials steps that the healthcare community can communicate to parents and families but also some steps that the FDA can take, and frankly manufactures can take, limit the exposures of greatest concern.”
Don’t Heat Plastic Packaging Containers
This report is striking up a lot of parental attention on the issue with heating plastic containers, including bottles, in the microwave, or even the dangers in sending them through the dishwasher for a good washing. Both of these things increase the possibility of the plastic leaking dangerous chemicals into the foods or liquids contained. According to the report, more than 10,000 additives that are considered “generally recognized as safe” and that have been identified in glues, dyes, and plastics, have been directly linked to serious health problems. According to Trasande, these health problems include issues in brain development, obesity, autism, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, limited muscle mass and bone strength. (1)
According to the report, any and all plastics with recycling codes 3 for phthalates, 6 for styrene, and 7 for bisphenols should be avoided altogether. The recommendation is to use glass containers when heating or storing food items, or using stainless steel packaging when storing foods. It has also been shown that choosing whole, organic foods over processed foods greatly reduce the risk of contamination, as does washing one’s hands before, throughout, and after any food preparation. (1, 4)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is carefully reviewing the report’s findings, and authorities such as press officer Megan McSeveney hold that there is “reasonable scientific certainty” that the additives within these plastics, dyes, and glues are indeed “generally recognized as safe” and entirely non-harmful when used as directed. However, should the information provided in the report indicate that any of the substances are actually unsafe, then the FDA has the authority to change any previous guidelines and prohibit or reduce the substances. Until then, be sure to avoid heating foods or liquids in plastic containers! (1)
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