InFood and Drink Storage, Toxic Chemicals

Is BPS the New Mystery Chemical in BPA-free Cans, Dishes and Kitchen Appliances?

Is BPS the New Mystery Chemical in BPA-free Plastic Food Containers and Cans by

We've heard a lot about bisphenol-S (BPS) substitution for bisphenol-A (BPA) in sippy cups and water bottles, so we got busy digging to get answers about where it might be hiding.  A recent study indicates that even though it doesn't leach as easily, BPS is likely to cause problems similar to BPA by disrupting estrogen.  In fact, it may be even more harmful than BPA itself, according to a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

How to Avoid Bisphenol-S (BPS)

We've been researching the prevalence of BPS in plastic food containers, kitchen appliances and canned foods for the last year and here's what we've found so far:

  • While there has been a documented substitution of BPS for BPA in thermal paper and dollar bills, we hadn't found any documented cases of BPS being substituted for BPA in plastic bottles and food storage – until recently, that is. A new study detected BPS in #7 plastics (typically labeled as “BPA-free”). We've been recommending the avoidance of clear, hard, shiny #7 plastic for sometime because the maker of this new plastic won't disclose what it's actually made from.  Well now it looks like those plastic water bottles, sippy cups and blenders were probably made from BPS after all.
  • We discovered a few months ago that many dehydrators are made with polycarbonate walls and/or trays (that was a surprise!).  And nearly all blender manufacturers have switched to a newer #7 plastic in an effort to go BPA-free (got to give them credit for trying, but dang, that's disappointing!).
  • BPS in canned foods is becoming a greater possibility.  We were super excited to hear that Campbell’s is phasing out BPA in its metal can linings, but the excitement wore off quickly when they refused to disclose what alternative lining will be used instead.  And some of the possible alternatives like PVC and BPS are obviously worrisome.  Stick with fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, or canned and jarred foods from transparent companies (see our recommendations below).

How to Choose Safer Food Containers and Kitchen Appliances

It's nearly impossible to avoid plastic completely, so here are our best tips for choosing safer options:

  1. Choose dishes and food containers made from plastics that never contained BPA in the first place, like polypropylene (PP), HDPE/LDPE, and silicone dishes.  They have a much better long-term track record than any other plastics and haven't been recently switched to BPA-free materials.  Check out our Safer Food Storage Shopping Guide for plenty of great options.
  2. Only purchase canned and jarred foods from companies who make it clear what their BPA-free lining is made from.  Eden FoodsBionaturae and its sister company Jovial are fantastic examples of companies with a conscience who use truly responsible food packaging.
  3. Be careful of BPA and BPS hiding in kitchen appliances.  It's tougher to avoid #7 plastics in blenders, but we still recommend you try to stick with glass or stainless options when possible.  We've done a lot of research on safer dehydrators, so take advantage of that info before investing in one only to be shocked at what you find inside.
  4. As we mentioned, the coating on thermal paper usually contains BPA or BPS, and we all know how easily we absorb chemicals through out skin, right?  Either skip the receipt entirely, or wash your hands right after touching it.
  5. Don't even bother with products made by secretive manufacturers with mystery chemicals they refuse to disclose.  We've put together a massive list of products made without #3, #6, or #7 plastic (including teethers, toys, dishes, appliances and more), and many safer product shopping guides to make the process of researching easier, so be sure to check before buying.

As our friend Beth of My Plastic Free Life points out, this process of trying to determine what chemicals a product already contains – and whether those chemicals are toxic – is COMPLETELY backwards! In the meantime, we'll continue watching for new research and will keep you updated!

P.S.  Curious about AS, SAN (used in Brita Water Pitchers), and ABS?  They all seem to have a good track record for non-leaching stability so far.

P.P.S. Did you know that silicone is a safer choice than plastic? Click here to find out why!

Avoid Toxic Plastic in Food Containers and Kitchen Appliances


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