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What's the Big Deal About BPA?

Whether you’re ordering new plastic containers for your restaurant kitchen or a new water bottle for personal use, you’ve probably seen products that brag, “BPA Free!” But what is BPA, and is it necessary to avoid it? BPA is short for Bisphenol A, a chemical that’s been used to make polycarbonate plastics and resins since the 1950s. The chemical started to get attention in the 1990s when customers began to ask, "Is BPA safe?" Since then, there have been several studies that have attempted to link BPA to health problems, but the FDA has concluded that a low level of BPA exposure is not harmful to humans. Despite this, the U.S. and Canada have banned baby bottles with BPA to prevent potentially negative effects in children, and many companies are voluntarily phasing out adult water bottles with BPA in order to reassure worried consumers.

Although a certain amount of BPA is safe for daily human ingestion, consumers should be aware of which plastics contain BPA and other potentially harmful chemicals. Plastic is categorized by resin codes that tell consumers how to recycle the different types of plastic. The recycling number also corresponds to chemicals that the plastic is actually made with. It can be difficult to keep these numbers straight, so this chart will help you sort out which plastics are safe for use in a variety of different situations.

Plastic Code Used For Contains BPA Recycled Into

Polyethylene Terephthalate
• Disposable Water Bottles
• Clothing (Polyester)
No • Pillow Filling
• Sheet Plastic
• Food Containers

High-Density Polyethylene
• Milk Containers
• Detergent Bottles
• Water Jugs
No • Hair Care Bottles
• Motor Oil Bottles
• Outdoor Fencing
• Recycling Bins

Polyvinyl Chloride
• PVC Piping
• Outdoor Fencing
• Medical Tubing
• Shrink Wrap
No, but when heated this plastic can release other chemicals into food Not Commonly Recycled

Low-Density Polyethylene
• Bread Bags
• Toys
• Squeeze Bottles
• Adhesives
No • Tile
• Paneling
• Trash Cans

Polyproplene
• Yogurt Containers
• Takeout Containers
• Bottle Caps
• Condiment Bottles
No • Brooms
• Car Battery Cases
• Storage Bins
• Trays

Polystyrene
• All Foam Products including Cups, Plates, Bowls, and Packing Peanuts
• Coat Hangers
• Toys
No, but when heated this plastic
can release other chemicals into food
Not Commonly Recycled

Other
• Large Reusable Water Bottles
• Compostable Disposables
• Other
Plastic 7 may contain BPA. If it is not labeled "BPA Free" it probably contains BPA Not Commonly Recycled
Posted in: Food Safety | By Sabrina Bomberger
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