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Comprehensive Safe and Natural Baby Food Guide

Concern about the harmful effects of bisphenol-a (BPA) in polycarbonate plastic baby feeding gear spread like wildfire almost 10 years ago. So much parent-fury ensued that manufacturers were absolutely forced into removing it from their products. It seems now that only the archaic, irrelevant companies still use BPA (or polycarbonate) plastic packaging for food products.

Unfortunately, BPA is still commonly found in epoxy resins used for protective linings in canned food, ready-to-feed infant canned formula, and metal lids of baby food jars. A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found such widespread exposure to BPA may result in levels of up to 11 times higher in infants than in adults. Thankfully, our exposure has been greatly minimized due to the BPA-culling of recent years.

Reducing Toxic Chemical Exposure in Baby Food

Lowering our children's body burden is a necessity, so avoiding common toxic chemicals in food packaging is an important step. And considering the chemical industry used to pump out more than 7 billion pounds of bisphenol-a every year, it's important to keep our eyes open for the newer unknown chemicals that are constantly popping up – the industry is infamous for it.

That's why we like to stick with what we know. There are a group of materials that have been proven stable and are much safer alternatives to toxic plastics like polycarbonate, PVC, polystyrene and unknown #7 plastics. We also avoid certain metals like aluminum and opt for stainless steel instead, and we know that as long as a product is made of glass, polypropylene, LDPE, HDPE or PET, we're pretty much good to go.

If you'd like to learn more about plastics, check out our guide to Decoding the Mystery of Safer vs Toxic Plastic for further information on what to look for and what to avoid.

And if you need more information on baby formula, please review the Environmental Working Group's helpful Guide to Infant Formula. The basic rule of finding safe containers of commercially-prepared formula is to opt for the plastic jugs (look for recycling codes #1, 2, 4 and 5), and avoid the cans that likely have a BPA lining.

Commercially-Prepared Baby Food in Safe Containers

A Note About Gerber Baby Food Containers

Gerber uses #7  plastic for its baby food containers which is normally a recycling code we recommend avoiding due to the probability it's made of questionable (even unknown) ingredients. We called to clarify this information and confirmed that Gerber containers are actually made of a 3-layer plastic.

The outer layer is #6 polystyrene, the middle layer is #7 ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH, copolymer of ethylene and vinyl alcohol), and the third layer that actually touches the food is #2 HDPE. Polystyrene is a material we recommend avoiding, but it's said the EVOH is used to prevent migration of the polystyrene into the food, and HDPE is a safer and very stable plastic, so this could work in theory. But does it? We can't say for sure at this point.

Gerber is also in the process of switching any remaining glass baby food jars to this 3-layer plastic.

Safe Containers for Homemade Baby Food

We do recommend making your own baby food if possible and storing it in reusable containers. The following list of baby food containers is confirmed to be made of safer materials.

Safe Baby Food Makers

The following is a list of baby food makers and mills made without #3, 6 and 7 plastics on food-contact surfaces.

Other Helpful Safe Product Guides

Have we missed any brands that you know of?  If so, leave a comment and let us know!

Updated 8/26/16


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