It’s not Just in the Meal, But the Packaging: BPA Toxicity in Fast Food Packaging Could Lead to High Rates of Brain Defects
A new study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that a group of chemicals used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl has been found to leach into fast food via the plastic containers they are packaged in.
As reported by the UK’s Daily Mail Online, the chemicals – known as phthalates – have been banned from use in children’s toys in products like teething rings and soft books because medical research indicate that they have toxic effects.
However, the chemicals are used to manufacture the plastic/Styrofoam packaging that comes with fast food fare and have been found to be leaching into meats and grains (breads) especially. The Mail noted that the chemicals have previously been implicated in several illnesses and conditions including autism, hormone disruption and asthma.
The new study is among the first to examine a link between phthalates and fast-food packaging. “People who ate the most fast food had phthalate levels that were as much as 40 per cent higher,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Ami Zota, Ph.D., of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
“Our findings raise concerns because phthalates have been linked to a number of serious health problems in children and adults,” she added.
Phthalates are not the only chemicals in our food and drink packaging that have been linked to health problems. So-called “BPA-free” plastic packaging which uses a similar chemical has also been linked to various health issues and illnesses.
“BPS [bisphenol S], termed the safe alternative to BPA [bisphenol A], may be equally as harmful to developing brains,” said Deborah Kurrasch of the University of Calgary, lead researcher of one of two related studies presented at the joint meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society in Chicago in August 2014. “Society must place increased pressure on decision makers to remove all bisphenol compounds from manufacturing processes.”
“BPS is one of the substitutes used in BPA-free products,” said Hong-Sheng Wang of the University of Cincinnati, lead researcher of the second study. “There is implied safety in BPA-free products. The thing is, the BPA analogs — and BPS is one of them — have not been tested for safety in humans.”
In Kurrasch’s study, researchers found that zebrafish exposed to BPA became similarly hyperactive as fish exposed to BPA.
The latter chemical, according to research published in 2013, caused a great deal of endocrine disruption, as we reported in July of that year:
The real threat from bisphenol-A (BPA), the nefarious plastics chemical linked to endocrine disruption, may have more to do with the substances produced when the chemical is metabolized by the body rather than with the actual chemical itself. A new study published in the journal PLoS One explains how a BPA metabolite known as MPB actually tends to bind much more easily to the body’s estrogen receptors than BPA does, which may help explain why some studies have overlooked BPA’s tendency to wreak metabolic havoc throughout the body.
Sterility for generations
“In other words, MPB is basically grabbing onto the estrogen receptor with two hands compared to just one hand for BPA,” said Dr. Michael E. Baker, a professor of medicine at the University of California-San Diego, and one of the authors of the study. “Two contact points make a much stronger connection.”
Continued exposure to BPA, some scientists believe, could in fact make future generations sterile, according to a study published in April 2015.
Ramji Bhandari, an assistant research professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri and a visiting scientist with the United States Geological Survey, along with a team of biologists and toxicologists, found that, even when exposure to BPA doesn’t show immediate health consequences, the second, third and even fourth generations afterward can experience a decrease in fertilization as well as increased embryo mortality.
To find out more about how you can avoid toxins in foods to help protect your health, check out the new book Food Forensics by Mike Adams, on store shelves July 26.