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  1. Since plastics were first produced in the early 1900s, they have become ubiquitous in our daily lives. The term “plastic” covers an array of organic and inorganic compounds. Substances, known as plasticisers, are often added to the raw ingredients to shape or stabilise plastics. To manufacture clear hard plastic, a chemical called bisphenol A (BPA) or its alternatives bisphenol S (BPS) or bisphenol F (BPF) are often utilised.[1] [2] For soft, flexible plastic, however, phthalates are often used.[3]  All of these substances are known to be harmful endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).[4] [5] [6] EDCs can affect the body’s development, growth and hormone balance by mimicking, blocking or otherwise disrupting the body’s natural hormones.[7] [8] Unborn and young children seem to be more susceptible; for example EDC exposure during early foetal development increases the probability of negative health outcomes later in life, including cancers, neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases, metabolic disorders, asthma and immune disorders.[9]  It is an unfortunate fact that these toxic chemicals can leach from plastic containers into food. Worse still, many of the actions that we do to food containers can increase the level of migration of the toxic chemicals. Exposing plastic to heat by processes such as washing at high temperatures, microwaving or adding hot food or liquid can increase the leaching of chemicals into the contents, as can mechanical stress and exposure to sunlight. Furthermore, toxin migration is likely to be greater when plastic comes into contact with fatty foods such as meat or cheese.[10] BPA is proven dangerous, and the use of BPA in the manufacture of baby bottles has now been prohibited in the USA and the EU. However it is often replaced with BPS or BPF, which are currently still authorised for use in baby bottles, despite them causing many of the same harmful effects as BPA.[11] This means that even products marketed as “BPA-free” can still be dangerous to use, as its toxic alternatives (BPS or BPF) are still commonly found in baby bottles, other food containers and all other plastic goods. These other food-contact goods, especially reusable bottles used during sports, are often left in the car or carried around in warm weather, where increased temperatures increase the risk of contamination by leached toxic chemicals.[12] The type and amount of chemical that leaches into the food or drink depends on numerous factors, including the type of plastic, the time for which it is heated, and the condition of the plastic container.[13] However it is not just through our food that we are exposed to these toxic EDCs; in the case of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) we are also exposed via dust inhalation and our household furniture, our car upholstery and even our electronic devices.[14] Testing of chemical migration from plastic does form part of the legislation regarding the use of plastic containers for storing food, however regulations are potentially not stringent enough to protect us fully, as they do not account for cumulative exposures or multiple exposure routes in our households. Testing involves measuring the quantity of chemicals that leach into the food during “normal use”.[15] However, when the overall migration is below the limit considered safe by the relevant regulatory body, risk assessments on specific harmful substances may not be carried out. Worse still, testing measures the quantities of toxins leaching into one serving of food, without taking into consideration the frequency at which an individual is exposed to these toxins, or the multiple routes through which they may be exposed. Exposure can be high when plastic containers are used frequently, or when the individual is exposed to toxic chemicals from a range of sources in addition to food, such as widespread exposure to PBDEs in a variety of household products, including dust.[14] Given the potential for such dangerous contamination of our food from plastic containers, the best choice for food storage and heating may therefore be to use safer alternatives. While some plastics may claim to be a ‘safer’ alternative, such as products marketed as “BPA-free”, they may still leach harmful chemicals such as EDCs into food and drink, as toxic BPA has simply been replaced with equally dangerous BPS and BPF. In fact these chemicals may actually be more dangerous, as they have shown the potential for even greater EDC activity.[16] This bending of the rules by manufacturers, coupled with poor regulation, mean that plastic alternatives, such as glass, are the safer option to limit your toxin exposure. But be sure to check the seal of your glass container lids though - these are often made using potentially toxic plastics additives too.     [1] Halden, RU. (2010) Plastics and health risks. Ann Rev Pub Health. 31. 179-194. [2] Viñas, R. & Watson, CS. (2013) Bisphenol S disrupts estradiol-induced nongenomic signaling in a rat pituitary cell line: effects on cell functions. Environ Health Perspect. 121(3). 352-8. [3] Shen, H-Y. (2005) Simultaneous screening and determination eight phthalates in plastic products for food use by sonication-assisted extraction/GC–MS methods. Talanta. 66(3). 734-9. [4] Mersha, MD. et al. (2015) Effects of BPA and BPS exposure limited to early embryogenesis persist to impair non-associative learning in adults. Behav Brain Funct. [epub ahead of print] doi: 10.1186/s12993-015-0071-y  [5]  Qiu, W. et al. (2016) Actions of Bisphenol A and Bisphenol S on the Reproductive Neuroendocrine System During Early Development in Zebrafish. Endocrinology. 157(2). 636-47. [6] Sheikh, IA. et al. (2016) Endocrine Disruption: Computational Perspectives on Human Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin and Phthalate Plasticizers. PLoS One. 11(3). [epub ahead of print] doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151444. [7] Casals-Casas, C. &  Desvergne, B. (2011) Endocrine disruptors: from endocrine to metabolic disruption. Ann Rev Physiol. 73. 135-62. [8] Roy, J. et al. (2009) Estrogen-like endocrine disrupting chemicals affecting puberty in humans--a review. Med Sci Monit. 15(6). RA137-45. [9] Landrigan, P. et al. (2003) Assessing the effects of endocrine disruptors in the National Children's Study. Environ Health Perspect. 111(13). 1678-82. [10] Munguía-López, EM. et al. (2005) Migration of bisphenol A (BPA) from can coatings into a fatty-food simulant and tunafish. Food Addit Contam. 22(9). 892-8. [11] Eladak, S et al. (2015) A new chapter in the bisphenol A story: bisphenol S and bisphenol F are not safe alternatives to this compound. Fertil Steril. 103(1). 11-21. [12] Greifenstein, M. et al.(2013) Impact of temperature and storage duration on the chemical and odor quality of military packaged water in polyethylene terephthalate bottles. Sci Total Environ. 456-7. 376-83. [13] Cooper, JE. et al. (2011) Assessment of bisphenol A released from reusable plastic, aluminium and stainless steel water bottles. Chemosphere. 85(6). 943-7. [14] Imm, P. et al. (2009) Household exposures to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in a Wisconsin cohort. Environ Health Perspect. 117(12). 1890-5. [15] Intertek. (2016) European Union Food Packaging and Materials Migration Testing. Retrieved April 2016 from, http://www.intertek.com/packaging/testing/food-migration/ [16] Chen, D. et al. (2016) Bisphenol Analogues Other Than BPA: Environmental Occurrence, Human Exposure, and Toxicity - A Review. Environ Health Perspect. 50(11). 5438-53.   
  2. Plastic materials pervade every area of modern life. It is estimated that during the first ten years of this century, almost as much plastic was manufactured as during the whole of the last century. A substantial amount of the world’s crude oil is used in the production of plastics.[1] Furthermore, plastic waste is a huge environmental issue due to the harmful chemicals and greenhouse gases that are emitted when it is incinerated.[2] Alternatively, if buried deep in landfill sites, harmful chemicals can leach into the soil, contaminating groundwater;[3] floating plastic waste can survive for thousands of years in water, potentially serving as a transportation device for invasive species, thus disrupting habitats.[4]  Plastic debris in water can also be laced with chemicals which, when ingested, can injure or poison. In addition to the effects on habitats and wildlife, the chemicals that are added to plastics (often to provide desirable performance characteristics such as hardness or flexibility) are also absorbed by the human body. They can therefore pose serious health risks, not just for those exposed to them during the manufacturing process, but for the population in general.[5] Diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), a plasticising chemical, is a recognised endocrine disruptor (i.e., a chemical that may interfere with the body’s hormone system),[6] and it can increase the risk of birth defects and other developmental disorders.[7][8] Children are particularly vulnerable to these toxic chemicals and their capacity to interfere with hormonal systems.[8] By altering feedback loops in the brain, thyroid, gonads, pituitary and other parts of the endocrine system, endocrine disruptors can affect overall development and increase the risk of cancer later in life.[9] [10]  Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are widely used in many plastic products and have also been associated with numerous health conditions. One study measuring the levels of PBDEs in children’s blood found that the higher the levels, the significantly poorer the child's cardiovascular responses to stress, and the worse the parental and self-reported anger in the child, indicating both cardiovascular and psychological effects of PBDE exposure.[11] There is also increasing evidence that PBDE exposure in childhood can increase a child’s susceptibility to autism,[12] as well as long-lasting behavioural abnormalities – particularly deficits in motor activity and cognition.[13] Some chemicals used in plastic were, at least for a period of time, considered safe to use. For example, the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in plastics was considered safe for many years; however, it is currently under intense scrutiny, as it has been demonstrated that it is also an endocrine-disrupting compound. [14] [15] In France, as of 2015, BPA was completely banned from use in any form of food contact material; however, it is still freely marketed in other parts of the world or has simply been replaced with other substances, such as bisphenols S or F, which have also been shown to have endocrine-disrupting effects.[16] Plastics play a role in almost every aspect of food production and preparation. Our food is often in direct contact with plastic, from being processed with plastic-covered equipment to being packaged in plastic containers or plastic-lined tins. In our house, food is stored and often reheated in plastic containers. It has long been known that leaching (or migration) of chemicals takes place from plastic containers into the food we eat. However small the quantities of these toxins, the plastic additives’ potential to cause enormous risks to our health means that consumers should be aware of the dangers that plastics pose. [1] Gervet B (2007). The use of crude oil in plastic making contributes to global warming. Retrieved April 2016 from http://www.ltu.se/cms_fs/1.5035!/plastics%20-%20final.pdf. [2] Webb HK et al. (2013). Plastic Degradation and Its Environmental Implications with Special Reference to Poly(ethylene terephthalate). Polymers. 5(1). 1-18. [3] USGS (2015). Contaminants found in groundwater. Retrieved April 2016 from http://water.usgs.gov/edu/groundwater-contaminants.html. [4] European Commission (2011). Plastic Waste: Ecological and Human Health Impacts. Retrieved April 2016 from http://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/IR1_en.pdf. [5] Lithner D, Larsson A, Dave G (2011). Environmental and health hazard ranking and assessment of plastic polymers based on chemical composition. Sci Total Environ. 409(18). 3309-24. [6] Howdeshell KL et al. (2007). Cumulative effects of dibutyl phthalate and diethylhexyl phthalate on male rat reproductive tract development: altered fetal steroid hormones and genes. Toxicol Sci. 99(1). 190-202. [7] Parks LG et al. (2000). The plasticizer diethylhexyl phthalate induces malformations by decreasing fetal testosterone synthesis during sexual differentiation in the male rat. Toxicol Sci. 58(2). 339-49. [8] Shea KM; American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Environmental Health (2003). Pediatric exposure and potential toxicity of phthalate plasticizers. Pediatrics. 111(6 Pt 1). 1467-74. [9] Crane DI et al. (1988). Changes to the integral membrane protein composition of mouse liver peroxisomes in response to the peroxisome proliferators clofibrate, Wy-14,643 and di(2-ethyl-hexyl)phthalate. Mol Cell Biochem. 81(1). 29-36. [10] Landrigan P et al. (2003). Assessing the effects of endocrine disruptors in the National Children's Study. Environ Health Perspect. 111(13). 1678-82. [11] Gump BB et al. (2014). Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) exposure in children: possible associations with cardiovascular and psychological functions. Environ Res. 132. 244-50. [12] Wong S. and Giulivi C (2016). Autism, mitochondria and polybrominated diphenyl ether exposure CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. [epub ahead of print] [13] Linares V et al. (2015). Human exposure to PBDE and critical evaluation of health hazards. Arch Toxicol. 89(3). 335-56. [14] Vandenberg LN et al. (2013). Regulatory decisions on endocrine disrupting chemicals should be based on the principles of endocrinology. Reprod Toxicol. 38. 1-15. [15] Lahimer MC et al. (2013). Characterization of plastic packaging additives: Food contact, stability and toxicity. Arab J Chem. In press. doi:10.1016/j.arabjc.2013.07.022. [16] Eladak S. et al. (2015). A new chapter in the bisphenol A story: bisphenol S and bisphenol F are not safe alternatives to this compound. Fertil Steril. 103(1). 11-21.
  3. We constantly come into contact with items that contain some form of plastic, many of which contain toxic additives such as bisphenols A, S and F (BPA, BPS and BPF) among many others. Bisphenol compounds are found in numerous household products that we give to our infants without thinking - baby bottles, sippy cups, plastic food storage containers, even the linings of baby formula tins. The chemicals present in these items can leach into the food or drink contained within them in a process that occurs at a higher rate during common processes such as boiling, heating and microwaving.[1]  Bisphenol compounds such as BPA are endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC), meaning they can interfere with hormone systems within the body.[2] [3] [4] EDCs can affect the body’s development, growth and hormone balance by mimicking, blocking or disrupting the body’s natural hormones.[5] [6] Unborn and young children seem to be the most susceptible; for example EDC exposure during early foetal development increases the probability of negative health outcomes later in life, including cancers, neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases, metabolic disorders, asthma and immune disorders.[7]  Because of these potential effects on health, BPA was banned from use in baby bottles in Canada, France and Denmark in 2010,[8] before being banned across the EU in 2011.[9] Although these statutory bans were minimal, big anti-BPA PR campaigns have led to an increase in the number of BPA-free plastic products becoming available, particularly BPA-free bottles. However, they may not be the “safe” alternative that they claim to be. One study, for example, found that EDCs still leach from BPA-free plastic products, explaining that BPA-free does not mean EDC free.[10] Indeed BPA-free products often use the alternatives BPS or BPF, which are currently still authorised for use in baby bottles, despite them causing many of the same harmful effects as BPA.[10] Indeed there are now concerns that BPA-free plastics may actually have greater levels of EDCs than plastics made with BPA.[11] Worse still, BPA is currently only banned from use in baby bottles in Europe; it is still permitted in children’s plastic plates and cutlery, plastic toys and teething rings and even baby food container. Shockingly, equally toxic BPS and BPF are completely unrestricted, like BPA was before its ban from use in baby bottles. Despite the fact that previously permitted levels of BPA were thought to be “safe”, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reconsidered what it deemed to be a “safe” level in 2015, reducing the permitted amount by over 90%. They stated that “current exposure to the chemical is too low to cause harm”, but went on to state that “BPA at high doses (more than 100 times the TDI) is likely to cause adverse effects in the kidney and liver” and that, worryingly, they could not exclude “possible effects of BPA on the reproductive, nervous, immune, metabolic and cardiovascular systems, as well as in the development of cancer”.[12] Yet even these new, lower levels may not truly reflect a “safe” level of exposure, as they do not take into account the additive effects of multiple exposures during frequent use, or exposure to multiple EDCs in one product. Therefore, the only way to be truly safe is to try to avoid plastic at all costs until EDC-free certified plastics are available. Just because a plastic is touted as BPA-free does not necessarily mean it is actually non-toxic. A safer and healthier alternative is to use glass containers wherever possible. Glass doesn’t contain the toxic additives that most plastics do, and is inert, which means that it doesn’t react with the food contained inside it like plastic does. It also means that it remains safe, even with high temperature washing, microwaving and UV light. Although, when using glass as an alternative, don’t forget to check what the lid is made of, as plastic may also be hiding in the form of a closure seal. Extra caution should also always be taken when using glass products around infants and children.   [1] Lim, DS. et al. (2009) Potential risk of bisphenol A migration from polycarbonate containers after heating, boiling, and microwaving. J Toxicol Environ Health. 72(21-22). 1285-91. [2] Mersha, MD. et al. (2015) Effects of BPA and BPS exposure limited to early embryogenesis persist to impair non-associative learning in adults. Behav Brain Funct. [epub ahead of print] doi: 10.1186/s12993-015-0071-y. [3] Qiu, W. et al. (2016) Actions of Bisphenol A and Bisphenol S on the Reproductive Neuroendocrine System During Early Development in Zebrafish. Endocrinology. 157(2). 636-47. [4] Sheikh, IA. et al. (2016) Endocrine Disruption: Computational Perspectives on Human Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin and Phthalate Plasticizers. PLoS One. 11(3). [epub ahead of print] doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151444. [5] Casals-Casas, C. & Desvergne, B. (2011) Endocrine disruptors: from endocrine to metabolic disruption. Ann Rev Physiol. 73. 135-62. [6] Roy, J. et al. (2009) Estrogen-like endocrine disrupting chemicals affecting puberty in humans--a review. Med Sci Monit. 15(6). RA137-45. [7] Landrigan, P. et al. (2003) Assessing the effects of endocrine disruptors in the National Children's Study. Environ Health Perspect. 111(13). 1678-8 [8] European Commission (2010) Bisphenol A and baby bottles: challenges and perspectives. Retrieved May 2016 from, http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/bitstream/JRC58897/eur%2024389_bpa%20%20baby%20bottles_chall%20%20persp%20(2).pdf  [9] European Commission (2011) Ban of Bisphenol A in baby bottles. Retrieved May 2016 from, http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/health_consumer/dyna/consumervoice/create_cv.cfm?cv_id=716  [10] Bittner, GD et al. (2014) Estrogenic chemicals often leach from BPA-free plastic products that are replacements for BPA-containing polycarbonate products. Environ Health. 13. 41-55. [11] Yang, CZ. et al. (2011) Most plastic products release estrogenic chemicals: a potential health problem that can be solved. Environ Health Perpect. 119(7). 989-96. [12] EFSA (2015) Scientific opinion on bisphenol A. Retrieved May 2016 from, http://www.efsa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/corporate_publications/files/factsheetbpa150121.pdf 
  4. We all handle paper receipts every day, but have you ever wondered what they are made from? Up to 94% of receipts are made from paper that has been coated in Bisphenol A (BPA),[1] a chemical with known endocrine-disrupting actions.[2] [3] BPA has been associated with numerous reproductive and developmental effects in animals[4] and recent studies have also shown that BPA poses a potential health risk to unborn children.[5] One investigation of BPA levels in the umbilical cord blood of 85 pregnant women showed the presence of BPA in all samples, either in its free or conjugated form, suggesting potential universal BPA exposure of pregnant women and thus their unborn babies.[6] In France, as of 2015, BPA was completely banned from use in any form of food contact material, however it is still freely marketed in other parts of the world, or has simply been replaced with other substances, such as bisphenols S or F, which have also been shown to have similar, if not worse, endocrine disrupting actions.[7] BPA has been shown to contaminate the blood and urine of anyone touching a receipt, particularly if after using skin care products such as hand sanitizer, which makes the skin more permeable.[8] This systemic exposure is particularly worrying for those who are regularly exposed to receipts, such as cashiers or check-out workers. One study looking at BPA in cashiers showed that BPA from receipts can enter the skin to such a depth that it cannot be washed away,[9] whilst another showed a significant increase in BPA in the urine of cashiers handling receipts on a daily basis.[10] In fact retail workers have an average of 30% more BPA in their bodies than other adults.[11] The Environmental Working Group (EWG) in the US commissioned an investigation into receipts that showed the total amount of BPA on a receipt was 250-1,000 times greater than that typically found in a food tin, or that leaches from a BPA-based plastic bottle into its contents.[11] Unlike BPA in plastic bottles and other products, the BPA on thermal paper isn’t chemically bound in any way and resides as a powdery film on the paper’s surface. This dramatically increases the exposure upon handling. Worryingly,  if receipts are recycled, as most people would, the BPA they contain can then contaminate recycled paper products, such as toilet paper, napkins, paper food packaging and other paper products.[1] So how can you reduce your exposure? You can protect yourself by minimising receipt handling whenever possible, especially after applying skincare products to the hands. And by choosing the recycling method of composting rather than reusing the recyclates for the food contact material, you can protect others and the environment too.   [1] Liao, C, Kannan, K. (2011) Widespread occurrence of bisphenol A in paper and paper products: implications for human exposure. Environ Sci Technol. 45(21). 9372-9. [2] Vandenberg LN, Colborn T, Hayes TB, Heindel JJ, Jacobs DR Jr, Lee DH, Myers JP, Shioda T, Soto AM, vom Saal FS,Welshons WV, Zoeller RT. (2013) Regulatory decisions on endocrine disrupting chemicals should be based on theprinciples of endocrinology. Reprod Toxicol. 38. 1-15. [3] Lahimer, MC, Ayed, N, Horriche, J, Belgaied, S. (2013) Characterization of plastic packaging additives: Food contact, stability and toxicity. Arab J Chem. In press. doi:10.1016/j.arabjc.2013.07.022 [4] Jiang, X,Chen, HQ, Cui, ZH, Yin, L, Zhang, WL, Liu, WB, Han, F, Ao L,, Cao, J, Liu, JY. (2016) Low-dose and combined effects of oral exposure to bisphenol A and diethylstilbestrol on the male reproductive system in adult Sprague-Dawley rats. Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 43. 94-102. [5] Mersha, MD, Patel, BM, Patel, D, Richardson, BN, Dhillon, HS. (2015) Effects of BPA and BPS exposure limited to early embryogenesis persist to impair non-associative learning in adults. Behav Brain Funct. 11. 27. [6] Gerona, RR, Woodruff, TJ, Dickenson, CA, Pan, J, Schwartz, JM, Sen, S, Friesen, MW, Fujimoto, VY, Hunt, PA. (2013) Bisphenol-A (BPA), BPA Glucuronide, and BPA Sulfate in Midgestation Umbilical Cord Serum in a Northern and Central California Population. Environ Sci Technol. 47(21). 12,477-85 [7] Eladak, S, Grisin, T, Moison, D, Guerquin, MJ, N'Tumba-Byn, T, Pozzi-Gaudin, S, Benachi, A, Livera, G, Rouiller-Fabre, V, Habert R. (2015) A new chapter in the bisphenol A story: bisphenol S and bisphenol F are not safe alternatives to this compound. Fertil Steril. 103(1). 11-21. [8] Hormann, AM, vorn Saal, FS, Nagel, SC, Stahlhut, RW, Moyer, CL, Ellersieck, MR, Welshons, WV, Toutain, P-L, Taylor, JA. (2014) Holding Thermal Receipt Paper and Eating Food after Using Hand Sanitizer Results in High Serum Bioactive and Urine Total Levels of Bisphenol A (BPA). PLoS One. 9(10). e110509. [9] Biedermann, S, Tschudin, P, Grob, K. (2010) Transfer of bisphenol A from thermal printer paper to the skin. Anal Bioanal Chem. 398(1). 571-6.  [10] Ndaw, S, Remy, A, Jargot, D, Robert, A. (2016) Occupational exposure of cashiers to Bisphenol A via thermal paper: urinary biomonitoring study. Int Arch Occup Environ Health. [epub] [11] EWG (2010) BPA coats cash register receipts: tests find chemical-laden receipts at national retailers. Retrieved May 2016 from, http://www.ewg.org/research/bpa-in-store-receipts   
  5.   Glass is a long-trusted packaging material for food, beverages and medicines, its earliest production for storage dating back to around 1500BC.[1] It is acknowledged as being a sustainable storage method that is healthy for both the consumer and the environment. Glass is produced from natural raw materials such as sand, soda ash and limestone, and its manufacture produces minimal waste or by-products.[2] Glass is impermeable and non-porous – properties that protect its contents from degradation and tampering. Being recognised as safe, glass containers do not require leaching/extraction testing.[3]   Because it is chemically inert (unlike plastic, which tends to be porous and may have absorbent properties), glass guards its contents from moisture and oxygen. Its glossy surface repels odours and residual flavours, meaning that products stored in glass not only maintain their ‘shelf life’ but freshness and flavour as well.[4] Other advantages of glass’ non-porous surface are that it does not absorb food or bacteria and it can safely be washed at high temperatures. The risk of toxins leaching into food from plastic containers is well-documented, and this risk increases greatly when plastic is heated or microwaved. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used to manufacture polycarbonate plastics (including some food packaging and plastic bottles), which can leach into food.[5] BPA is an endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC), and may pose a risk to the environment and health, particularly to unborn and young children's health.[6] Even the so-called ‘BPA-free’ plastics have been shown to contain toxic EDCs.[7] Unlike plastic containers, which leach chemicals when heated, glass containers can be safely heated when in contact with food or drink.  Glass packaging can also be reused indefinitely. Consumers can reuse glass jam jars, for example, to store food. Glass is 100% recyclable, and recycled glass maintains its purity and quality. It is also highly sustainable, as the glass-recycling process uses 40% less energy than what is needed to manufacture from the raw materials.[8] Recycling also saves a large amount of landfill space, as glass sent to landfill does not decompose. Many also agree that the aesthetic value of glass is far superior to that of plastic and that there are economic benefits to be reaped from its almost indefinite lifespan, despite a potentially higher initial outlay. With regard to food packing, preservation and storage, glass has the potential for preserving flavour, taste and quality, as well as, in some cases, increasing the food’s shelf life more than some plastics can. Glass is a more eco-friendly product than plastic, as it can always be recycled, whereas some plastics can not, especially not for reuse as a food contact material. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, glass is safe and does not leach toxins, even at high temperatures. [9] The sole reservation as far as glass containers are concerned is not with the glass itself, but with their lids and seals, which can contain plastics and therefore the associated toxic EDCs. [1] Dean DA (2005). Glass Containers. Retrieved April 2016 from http://202.74.245.22:8080/xmlui/bitstream/handle/123456789/291/Chapter%206.pdf?sequence=7.  [2] IFC (2007). Environmental, Health, and Safety Guidelines for Glass Manufacturing. Retrieved April 2016 from http://www.ifc.org/wps/wcm/connect/384e20804885574ebc0cfe6a6515bb18/Final%2B-%2BGlass%2Bmanufacturing.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&id=1323152002618. [3] GPI (2013). Compliance of Glass Packaging with Human and Environmental Health and Safety Toxics–in–Packaging Requirements. Retrieved April 2016 from http://www.gpi.org/sites/default/files/Compliance%20of%20Glass%20Packaging%20with%20Human%20and%20Environmental%20Health%20and%20Safety%20Toxics.pdf.  [4] van Aardt M, Duncan SE, Marcy JE, Long TE, Hackney CR (2001). Effectiveness of poly(ethylene terephthalate) and high-density polyethylene in protection of milk flavor. J Dairy Sci. 84(6). 1341-7. [5] Schecter A, Malik N, Haffner S, Smith S, Harris TR, Paepke O, Birnbaum L (2010). Bisphenol A (BPA) in U.S. food. Environ Sci Technol. 44(24). 9425-30. [6] Landrigan P, Garg A, Droller DBJ (2003). Assessing the effects of endocrine disruptors in the National Children's Study. Environ Health Perspect. 111(13). 1678-82. [7] Yang CZ, Yaniger SI, Jordan VC, Klein DJ, Bittner GD (2011). Most plastic products release estrogenic chemicals: a potential health problem that can be solved. Environ Health Perspect. 119(7). 989-96. [8] Clarence Valley Council (2016). Facts and Figures on Recycling, Waste, Transport and Energy Usage in Australia. Retrieved April 2016 from http://www.clarence.nsw.gov.au/cp_themes/metro/page.asp?p=DOC-TCC-15-16-18. [9] Glass Technology Services (2002). Investigation Of The Significant Factors In Elemental Migration From Glass In Contact With Food. Retrieved April 2016 from http://www.glass-ts.com/userfiles/files/2002-09%20-%20FSA%20-%20A03029%20Final%20Report%20-%20Investigation%20of%20the%20Significant%20Factors%20in%20Elemental%20migration%20from%20Glass%20in%20Contact%20with%20Food.pdf.
  6. Common acidic foods include vinegar, lemon juice, tomatoes, fruit juices, milk, cola and other fizzy drinks. Food that is acidic can react with materials such as plastic containers and packaging, which may contain toxic components such as bisphenol A (BPA), bisphenol S (BPS), bisphenol F (BPF), lead and antimony, to list just a few amongst potentially thousands. When acidic food is stored in plastic containers, or comes in contact with epoxy resins found in food packaging, leaching of these toxic compounds can occur. One study has shown that, when in contact with acidic foods, there is increased leaching of toxins from plastic or plastic-lined baby bottles. Another study found that darker coloured bottles leach more toxins than light or clear ones when in contact with acidic foods, and that leaching actually increases over the lifespan of a product.[1], [2] While it may seem simple to avoid ‘acidic’ foods and drinks, it may be surprising that milk, a common beverage served in plastic baby bottles, is in fact an acidic liquid.[3]  Some studies have shown that the levels of toxic substances leaching from plastic containers when in contact with acidic food are not above the levels deemed ‘safe’ by the European Commission in Regulation 10/2011, thus suggesting that this leaching should not be a concern for health.[4] However other studies suggest that even doses below the accepted ‘safe’ limit of BPA, for example, can be harmful.[5] BPA is a recognised endocrine disruptor, meaning it interferes with hormonal systems in mammals.[6] It has also been demonstrated that exposure during gestation and in the first few weeks following birth may be associated with male and female infertility, an increased predisposition to breast and prostate cancer and behavioural abnormalities.[7] Concerns over the impact of the endocrine disruptor BPA on health have resulted in its removal from many consumer products, especially baby bottles, which are therefore named “BPA Free”. In many cases, however, the BPA in these products has been replaced with alternative toxic substances, such as bisphenol S (BPS) or bisphenol F (BPF), which have been shown to have similar, or potentially worse endocrine disrupting properties to BPA, with the unfortunate added potential for other adverse effects.[8], [9] Given that milk is an acidic liquid, which have been shown to increase the leaching of these substances, BPA-free bottles may not be the ‘safe’ alternative they are claimed to be. Whilst it could be argued that the levels of leached toxins safely reside within the recommended limits, these limits often do not take into account multiple exposure routes or the volume or frequency of exposure. These regulations do not account for what may seem obvious: the vast difference in exposure to these toxins between consumers, for example those who drink no cola as opposed to those who drink five bottles. Given the increased rate of toxic chemical leaching when plastic is in contact with acidic food, a much safer option is to use glass containers for these products, but caution should still be taken, as glass containers often have plastic lid seals. [1]  Sanchez-Martinez, M. et al. (2013) Migration of antimony from PET containers into regulated EU food simulants. Food Chem. 141(2). 816-22 [2] Kubwabo, C. et al. (2009). Migration of bisphenol A from plastic baby bottles, baby bottle liners and reusable polycarbonate drinking bottles. Food Additives & Contaminants. 26(6). 928-937 [3] FDA (2007) Approximate pH of foods and food products. Retrieved October 2016 from, http://www.foodscience.caes.uga.edu/extension/documents/FDAapproximatepHoffoodslacf-phs.pdf  [4] Reimann, C. et al. (2007). Bottled drinking water: Water contamination from bottle materials (glass, hard PET, soft PET), the influence of colour and acidification. Applied Geochemistry. 25(7). 1030-1046 [5] Richter, C.A. et al. (2007). In vivo effects of bisphenol A in laboratory rodent studies. Reproductive Toxicology. 24(2). 199-224   [6] James, A.  et al. (2013). Review: Endocrine disrupting chemicals and immune responses: A focus on bisphenol-A and its potential mechanisms. Molecular Immunology. 53(4). 421-430 [7] Maffini, M.B. et al. (2006). Endocrine disruptors and reproductive health: the case of bisphenol-A. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology. (25). 179-186 [8] Rochester, J.R. et al. (2015). Bisphenol S and F: A Systematic Review and Comparison of the Hormonal Activity of Bisphenol A Substitutes. Environmental Health Perspectives. 123(7). 643-650 [9] Eladak, S. et al. (2015). A new chapter in the bisphenol A story: bisphenol S and bisphenol F are not safe alternatives to this compound. Fertility and Sterility. 103(1). 11-21