Health Female Adda
5 months ago
Store food only in glass and stainless steel jars. Here’s why!

We Indians are known for our ‘jugaad’ attitude towards life, a term that means making the best of what’s available. Anywhere else in the world using table fans for winnowing and helmets in the kitchen for cutting onions may seem bizarre but not in our country. While most of the jugaads are helpful, we are blissfully oblivious to how some may be harming our health. Point in question is reusing plastic and tin containers to store food items. In a bid to cut corners, we reuse plastic mineral water and soft drink bottles to store water and tin cans which once held canned foods. Plastic containers which once contained condiments and tea leaves are also reused for storing spices, etc. Here’s how these habits end up affecting our health.

Reusing plastic containers
Most plastic containers in which products are sold belong to number 1 category of plastics known as Polyethylene Terephthalate or PET. It’s known for its glassy and clear texture. Although they are considered safe for reuse after thorough washing, recent reports1 suggest that PET can leach antimony and other endocrine disrupting chemicals into your food. Other grades of plastic or #7 may also contain the dreaded BPA which is tied to hormone disruption and cancers. Should you really use BPA-free bottles?

Reusing metal food cans
Tin cans are commonly used for packing canned foods. Back in the days, large tin boxes were also re-used to store dry foods. The general consensus is that tin is safe for packaging foods. Since tin salts are poorly absorbed (only about 5 percent) and rapidly excreted from the human body, they are known to have low toxicity. However some salts in the tin can cause kidney damage.2 Today, tinning with enamel overcoat and crimped lids are the norm to minimise tin toxicity. Unfortunately, new studies say that the tin lining may contain BPA.3  it is still advised to not store acidic foods in opened cans to avoid tin leaching into food.

What should be used instead?
Any non reactive material should work well for storing food. Glass, ceramic and stainless steel utensils are safe options because you can store hot or cold foods without the fear of chemicals leaching into the food stuff.

References:

1. Sax, L. (2010). Polyethylene Terephthalate May Yield Endocrine Disruptors. Environmental Health Perspectives, 118(4), 445—448. http://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.0901253

2. Winship, K. A. (1988). Toxicity of tin and its compounds. Adverse drug reactions and acute poisoning reviews, 7(1), 19-38.

3. Hartle, J. C., Navas-Acien, A., & Lawrence, R. S. (2016). The consumption of canned food and beverages and urinary bisphenol A concentrations in NHANES 2003—2008. Environmental research, 150, 375-382.

Image source: Shutterstock

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