Ask Esther: BPAs & Food Storage

Can I use plastic containers to store food? I heard it is toxic.

One of the components of some plastic containers, as well as the lining of some cans, is a chemical called BPA. That stands for Bisphenol-A. It can be used in water bottles, storage containers, infant bottles, cans, and sippy cups. Using products with BPA exposes us to small amounts of this chemical. Animal studies suggest that BPA may cause health problems, including reproductive disorders, diabetes, and heart disease.

The US Food and Drug Administration has studied this topic since 2008 by conducting research of its own and reviewing the literature. Regarding the impact on human health, the FDA reports that “it finds no convincing evidence to support that belief.” In its studies, the FDA concluded that BPA is rapidly broken down and eliminated through urine or feces. In animal studies, it did not see toxicity even at levels that would be well above what would be found in humans. That being said, the FDA is continuing to investigate this issue.

There are three simple things you can do to avoid BPA if you are concerned about it. First, do not use plastic containers with a recycle code of 3 or 7 on the bottom. These are more likely to contain BPA. Second, discard plastic containers with cracks or scratches. And finally, do not add very hot food to a plastic container. Wait for it to cool before storing it.

Esther Trepal is a retired registered dietitian who spent the majority of her career working with people affected by chronic illnesses; including HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.  Through individual counseling as well as community presentations and lectures, Esther’s focus was on maximizing the impact of diet to support the well-being of her clients. She graduated with an MS from Columbia University in New York City in 2001.

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Our recipes, articles, and videos are reviewed by our oncology-trained dietitians to ensure that each is backed with scientific evidence and follows the guidelines set by the Oncology Nutrition for Clinical Practice, 2nd Ed., published by the Oncology Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group, a professional interest group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the American Institute for Cancer Research and the American Cancer Society

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