Plastic chemicals in your food: Can you minimize your exposure?

(CONSUMER REPORTS) — Take a trip through the grocery store or stop at a fast-food restaurant. From packaged produce to meat, canned foods to fast food, you name it, it probably contains some form of a chemical used to make plastic.

Consumer Reports tested a wide variety of packaged foods — 85 to be exact, looking primarily
for chemicals called phthalates and bisphenols such as BPA. CR found them in almost every
food that was tested, at levels that Consumer Reports’ scientists say are not okay.

Even at low levels, studies suggest these chemicals can contribute to an increased risk of
diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers.

But eliminating these chemicals from our diet is hard, if not impossible. The problem is, it’s not
just about avoiding foods wrapped in plastic. There are so many ways these chemicals can get
into our food. Take the conveyor belts and the food handling gloves used during food
processing. Even from contaminated water and soil.

So, what can you do to at least try to minimize chemical exposure? First, try to avoid plastic
food storage containers. If you do use them, don’t microwave them because heat can increase
chemical leaching into your food. It’s a good idea to avoid storing hot food in plastic containers.

Stay away from fast foods, which were found to have some of the highest levels of plasticizers
like phthalates in CR’s tests. One reason fast foods may have such high levels is because
they’re often prepared by people wearing vinyl gloves, which are known to be extremely high
in these chemicals. Try to eat fresh, minimally processed foods like unpackaged fruits and
vegetables, which have fewer opportunities to touch things with phthalates. Stick with wood,
stainless steel, and silicone kitchen tools. And swap out plastic water bottles for bottles made
out of glass or steel.

CR also recommends limiting high-fat foods in your diet because some research has found
higher levels of phthalates in foods with higher fat content.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to ABC4 Utah.