Ways to Reduce Your Exposure to BPA

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Last week, in a reversal of its 2008 declaration that Bisphenol A (BPA) was safe, the FDA expressed "some concern" about this chemical found in plastic bottles and metal cans. Noting "the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children," the FDA says it will conduct more in-depth studies. For now, though, BPA remains legal and unregulated. Here are some ways you can reduce your exposure.• Avoid polycarbonate plastic bottles and containers. These are usually hard, clear, and marked with number 7 or the letters "PC." Use unlined glass, stainless steel, or ceramic containers, instead. If using plastic, look for soft, cloudy plastic and the numbers 1, 2, and 4, which do not contain BPA.

Don't mix heat and plastic. BPA may be released at high temperatures, so do not microwave or put hot foods or liquids in BPA containers.

Discard scratched plastic bottles and containers. BPA can leak from the scratches.

Avoid (or eat fewer) canned foods and drinks. BPA is used in the linings of canned foods, and highly acidic foods like tomatoes may leach more BPA. Choose foods that are fresh, frozen, or packaged in glass or cardboard containers, instead. Some home canning lids also contain BPA, but you should be able to avoid contamination if there's enough head space between the contents and the lid.

Many of these tips were culled from the Environmental Working Group. For their full guide, see Tips to Avoid BPA Exposure.

For the FDA report, see Update on Bisphenol A for Use in Food Contact Applications: January 2010.

Related: Food News: The Latest on BPA

(Image: Emily Ho)

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Emily Ho is a Los Angeles-based writer, recipe developer, and educator on topics such as food preservation, wild food, and herbalism. She is a Master Food Preserver and founder of LA Food Swap and Food Swap Network. Learn more at Roots & Marvel

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