Your Cash Register Receipt May Contain BPA

Disclosure: This post was created as part of the BPA in Receipts Campaign in which I am a financially compensated blogger. The opinions are my own and based on my own experience.

Cash register receipt

Keeping your family healthy and staying away from nasty chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA) — a nasty endocrine disruptor — at the grocery store can be a daunting task. But there is new research (#ad) that shows that it’s not just the food that could contain BPA, it’s the cash register receipts as well. Specifically it’s the thermal register receipts that are the issue. That kind of paper feels really soft and slippery, because it’s made with BPA, a chemical that’s been banned or severely restricted in countries including Canada, France and China.

Ninety-four samples of cash register receipts were collected from 12 grocery store chains and analyzed for BPA. The receipts came from 82 stores in 66 cities and 17 states. Of the 94 samples that were analyzed, BPA was found to be present above the sample reporting limits in 27 of the samples. That’s 28.7% or over 1/4 of the samples that contained BPA. That might not seem like a huge number especially considering most people don’t handle receipts that often. However, if you think about the checkout clerks who are touching receipt after receipt as they hand them to the customers for eight or more hours per day, that adds up to a lot of BPA exposure.

Naturally Savvy reports:

Winn-Dixie, the grocery store chain popular in Southern states came in with the highest level of BPA concentrations above the sample reporting limits. All of the concentrations found on Winn Dixie receipts were above 1,000 mg. Ten Winn Dixie locations were sampled. Kroger and Safeway, the nation’s two largest grocery chains, also tested positive for high levels of BPA.

If you as a consumer want to avoid BPA in cash register receipts, you can simply refuse them, but I’m not sure what the answer is for the store clerks who have no choice but to handle them regularly. Perhaps wear gloves or better yet, get your company on board with using receipts without BPA.

Personally, I do most of my shopping at Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage (it helps that it’s a couple blocks from my house) and I recall seeing a notice posted at each checkout counter that their receipts do NOT contain BPA. Hopefully more companies will follow suit.

Disclosure: This post was created as part of the BPA in Receipts Campaign in which I am a financially compensated blogger. The opinions are my own and based on my own experience.

Newly Identified Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals Leach into Food Packaging: Guest Post

I’ve decided to take a little break from blogging (read more about the reasons why), but wanted to continue to provide interesting and insightful content on my blog in the meantime. For a while I will have guest posts from various bloggers interspersed with posts by me when I am moved to write. Thank you for your understanding. — Amy (CDG)

Today’s guest post is from Alicia Voorhies who blogs at The Soft Landing.
Post image for Newly Identified Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals Leach into Food Packaging

Newly Identified Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals Leach into Food Packaging

Emily Barrett of Environmental Health Perspectives recently provided a great synopsis of an updated review of food contact materials and their potential to leach endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC’s) into our food.

Author of the review, Jane Muncke, didn’t mince words when issuing her findings, calling into question the current means of estimating the true level of exposure to EDC’s through food contact materials.  Her conclusions included the following major points:

  • Food packaging is an underestimated source of chemical food contamination
  • Migration into dry foods can be considerable
  • Substances of concern, like endocrine disrupting chemicals, are widely used in food contact materials
  • Risk assessment of endocrine disrupting chemical food contamination is challenging because exposure and effect assessment are not always straight forward

Muncke’s insights have caused me to carefully reconsider which food packaging I choose for my own growing children. Based on her article, I’ll be investigating benzophenones (a known carcinogen) and organotins, two groups of suspected EDC’s, which are legally used in the United States and European Union.

And as Barrett pointed out, we now have even more motivation to choose fresh foods over processed ones.

The guidelines do not consider the collective numbers and toxicity – alone or in combination – of all of the chemicals that can leach from the packaging, the author points out.* In a chemical mix, individual health effects may be magnified. Printing, ink, adhesives, recycled cardboard and the plastic containers can all introduce unwanted chemicals into a single food product, creating a mix with additive or synergystic effects. What’s more, the chemicals may degrade over time or form new compounds that migrate into food. These can go entirely unmeasured since it is nearly impossible to identify and test for them all.

Kids may be at particular risk. Not only are their bodies still developing and hence susceptible to environmental insults, but they tend to eat more packaged foods, a more limited diet and more food for their body weight than adults do. There are similar concerns for pregnant women and their fetuses, as well as obese adults, whose bodies may process these chemicals differently from their trimmer counterparts.

Tips for Reducing Your Exposure to EDC’s in Food Packaging

  1. Avoid PVC in plastic food wrap:  ask your butcher to prepare the cuts of meat you want and wrap it in paper.  Most butcher or freezer paper is coated with wax or polyethylene which are better alternatives. As for blocks of cheese, look for packages with Ziplok style closures, and plastic packages that have been heat-sealed, because most of these bags are made from polyethylene.
  2. Buy fresh or frozen produce packaged in polyethylene bags:  BPA is found in most epoxy linings of aluminum cans, glass jar lids and the bottom of some frozen cardboard boxes – although there a few BPA-free options available
  3. Choose jarred foods when possible – especially those with space between the lid and the food
  4. If you do choose to purchase foods packaged in plastic, do not reuse, cook or heat food in them – even if recommended by the manufacturer; this may include some microwavable meals, so just remove them from the plastic container and heat in glass
  5. Look for non-recycled cardboard boxes when ordering takeout meals like pizza, as they are less likely to contain BPA.
  6. Bring your own reusable coffee cups and to-go containers for leftovers and skip Styrofoam altogether

>> Read the complete research study: Endocrine disrupting chemicals and other substances of concern in food contact materials: An updated review of exposure, effect and risk assessment in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

>> Related link: The Breast Cancer Fund has recently released a new study about BPA in food containers.

Photo Source: Flickr via _anh

Alicia Voorhies is a Registered Nurse who left the rat race to pursue her dream of owning a business. She traded working as Director of Nursing in an organization for disabled adults to relax and enjoy her love of medical research in alternative health ideas. She was immediately attracted to the mysteries of toxic plastics and their effect on children and quickly learned that avoiding endocrine-disrupting chemical in common household products can be overwhelming.  While searching for safe alternatives, she quickly realized how limited the available information for parents was – and that’s how her education-based company, The Soft Landing, was born.

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