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On BPA-free Plastic


Last week I was invited to a new products trade show and there was a woman touting the virtues of some new lidded plastic cups for kids (“spill proof!”). I asked her if they were BPA-free. She replied very matter-of-factly (I got the feeling she was fielding the question a lot): “No, it is not BPA-free, but you can drink 17,000 glasses of water in this cup before BPAs have any effect so that’s not something we’re concerning ourselves with.” I didn’t press her on the stat, but it seemed so strange to me — even if that fact was true, why would you buy that glass instead of one that was guaranteed to be safe? I asked Alexandra Zissu, author of The Conscious Kitchen to weigh in here. This was her response:

“I have no idea where that statistic comes from. There is a reason manufacturers are willingly backing away from BPA and even plastic entirely. If a company — especially one that makes products for kids — hasn’t joined the ranks, they will soon enough. I can only imagine how many times a day their customers — concerned parents — ask them if their products contain BPA. I’d imagine that at this point they’ll sell more product by saying no than they will quoting odd sounding figures. The way I understand it, there’s no telling how much gets into what you’re drinking as there are so many variables. Are you drinking something acidic? Are you washing it in the dishwasher with a product that contains chlorine? Or are you washing by hand with a natural, mild dish soap? Did you put it in the microwave last week? Did your kid drop it and bang it at the playground? Did it get left in the sun on the dashboard of your car? Etc. etc. etc. Plastic degrades over time and under all of those conditions I just mentioned. There’s no way of knowing what the wear and tear is of an individual cup once it leaves the store and gets into your kid’s hands. And really, what’s the point of using something that even after 17,000 glasses could be harmful? It makes more sense to me to choose a tried and true material that isn’t known to EVER be unsafe. And in the process,  you’re voting with your dollars and letting manufacturers know you don’t want to be involved with a company or a product that continues to use or contain this hormone disrupting chemical. BPA has been banned or is in the process of being banned in certain states and countries and the FDA keeps studying it and restudying it and now saying to be cautious about it. The writing is on the wall.”

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