According to a new paper by the American Academy of Pediatrics, many people overlook seemingly minor mistakes that pose serious food safety risks, such as microwaving or dishwashing plastic containers that contain harmful chemicals.
In a new study published online, pediatricians highlighted a growing number of evidence against food packaging materials, in addition to food colorings and preservatives.
Why Microwaving Plastic Containers Is Dangerous
The AAP is advising parents to avoid microwaving food or liquids in plastic containers or putting them in the dishwasher, since doing so would increase the chance of leaking dangerous chemicals. The best food containers, experts and officials say, are those made of glass of stainless steel.
Some types of plastics contain bisphenols, for example BPA, which are used to harden the material and can act similar to "estrogen in the body" — potentially affecting immune systems, impacting fertility, and increasing body fat if consumed, says the AAP. Needless to say that these are potentially life-threatening consequences, especially among children whose bodies are still developing.
"This report outlines not only safe and essential steps that the healthcare community can communicate to parents and families but also some steps that the FDA can take, and frankly manufacturers can take, to limit the exposures of greatest concern," according to Leonardo Trasande, lead author and member of the AAP Council on Environmental Health.
Other Food Safety Recommendations
Plastics which have recycling codes 3 for phthalates, 6 for styrene, and 7 for bisphenols must all be avoided, says the report. As for avoiding food contamination, the AAP says people should choose whole foods over processed foods as much as possible, and that they should practice washing hands and produce regularly during food preparation to avoid health mishaps.
The report also criticizes some of the more than 10,000 food additives "generally recognized as safe," including indirect additives such as glue, dyes, and plastic, which have all been linked to serious health problems, according to Trasande. The problems they pose when improperly consumed include:
• brain development
• attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
• limited muscle mass and bone strength.
The Food and Drug Administration is currently in the process of reviewing AAP's paper, USA Today reports. Press officer Megan McSeveney stressed that there's "reasonable scientific certainty" that additives, at least those considered safe, are not harmful when used as directed. Suppose brand-new information comes out proving they're not safe, however, then the FDA surely has the authority to revise previous guidelines and require use of such substances be either restricted or banned entirely.