There is growing evidence that food packaged in plastic may be contaminated by harmful chemicals from the chemicals found in them. Today we talk about food plastics.
Many of the foods we consume are packaged in plastics that carry risks – food and drink, both industrially processed and health foods.
The plastic itself is not a problem because the polymer molecules are too large to migrate from the packaging to the food. But alongside the polymer molecules in the plastic are much smaller molecules that can migrate into the food with which it is in contact. This is the case with polycarbonate and epoxy resin, used in storage containers and bottles, which can contain bisphenol A, a chemical that causes serious health problems. Or PVC, which is used to make bottles and cling film, contains plasticizing chemicals that are added to make it flexible and can make up 40% of the plastic material. Phthalates and epoxidized soybean oil have a negative impact on health.
Numbering on plastic packaging
Have you ever noticed the numbered triangles on the bottom of the plastic bottles you use? Have you ever wondered what the number inside the triangle represents? These numbers are known as recycling symbols, and they carry significant information about the material of the plastic bottle.
We are all aware of the basic precept of consumerism: consumers must have the knowledge and information necessary to make the right purchasing decisions. However, very few of us take the initiatives to learn in detail the value of the products we have been buying.
We are going to provide you in this post with the most relevant information you need to know about the plastic materials you have been using, probably all your life.
Each plastic container or bottle has a recycling symbol. A symbol is a number from 1 to 7 inside a triangle. They currently offer great information regarding the toxic chemicals used in the plastic material of the bottle, the likelihood of the plastic leaking, how biodegradable the plastic is, and finally the safety of the plastic. Knowing what the numbers mean is crucial because they have direct health and environmental impacts.
Number 1. Do not use the bottle after its expiration date.
The number 1 inside the triangle represents that the plastic is made of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE or PET) used to make bottles for juice, water or other beverages, mouthwash, sports drinks, etc.
This plastic is safe for single use only and should never be heated. Some consider it safe, but this plastic is known to allow bacteria and taste to build up. If you look carefully, there will be a message on the cover that says: Crush the bottle after use.
Number 1 plastic is recycled in handle bags, furniture, carpets, carpeting, liners, fibers, and thick, fleece-like cloths.
Number 2. These plastics can be reused and refilled.
The number 2 in the triangle indicates that the container is made of HDPE or high-density polyethylene. This plastic is one of 3 plastics that are considered safe and have a low risk of leaching.
Common uses are Milk cartons, household cleaner containers, juice bottles, shampoo bottles, cereal box liners, detergent bottles, motor oil bottles, yogurt tubs, and butter tubs.
Plastic 2 is recycled into pens, recycling garbage cans, picnic tables, lumber, benches, fences, and detergent bottles, to name a few.
Number 3 – Avoid using that plastic immediately.
If you see the number 3 inside the triangle, throw that plastic away immediately. Avoid using them at all. These plastics are made of V or PVC (vinyl).
Effects: They contain DEHA or Diethylhydroxylamine, which can be carcinogenic with long-term exposure. These plastics used contain phthalates, which are linked to numerous health problems ranging from developmental problems to miscarriages. Phthalates are a group of plastics that cause some males of many species to become female.
Common use: food wraps, plumbing pipes, and detergent bottles. PVC can be rigid or flexible and is found in bags for bedding products, meat and sausage packages, plastic toys, tablecloths, and medicine packages.
Recycling: This plastic is recycled for siding, flooring, speed bumps, roofing, and road gutters.
Number 4: You can reuse this plastic
You can reuse plastic if it has the number 4 inside the triangle. They are made of LPDE (Low-Density Polyethylene). They are used as reusable bags, especially for shopping.
This strong, flexible, and transparent plastic can be found in squeezable bottles, grocery bags, dry cleaning bags, shopping bags, clothes, carpet, frozen foods, bread bags, some food wrappers, etc.
After recycling, it can be used again in containers and waste garbage cans, envelopes, panels, pipes, or tiles.
Number 5, the safest plastic
Number 5 in the triangle is the safest. They are made of PP (Polypropylene). You will find it in ice cream cups, straws, and syrup bottles.
Yogurt containers, ketchup bottles, syrup bottles, medicine bottles, etc.
Polypropylene is recycled into brooms, car battery boxes, containers, pallets, signal lights, ice scrapers, and bicycle racks.
Number 6 and Number 7: Dangerous and deadly. Please avoid them
Number 6 inside the triangle indicates dangerous, while number 7 indicates deadly. It may sound a little over the top but read on to find out why. The plastic in number 6 is made from polystyrene. Polystyrene is Styrofoam, which is notorious for being difficult to recycle and, therefore, bad for the environment. As for number 7, its plastic is made of a mixture of polycarbonate and BISPHENOL-A (BPA). (All plastic resins that do not fit into the other categories are placed in category number 7.)
Effects: contain hormone disruptors such as BPA, which has been linked to infertility, hyperactivity, reproductive problems, and other health problems. Continued use of types 6 or 7 can lead to cancer.