Toxins in Food 

The toxins in food come from a variety of sources, including cookware, food packaging, storage containers, pesticides, contaminants and preservatives. Here are six things to consider to reduce your exposure to toxins and support your non toxic for health efforts.

1. The Toxins in Food and Water

In addition to the sources listed below, toxins end up in your food and water a variety of other ways. Some are intentionally added, like preservatives and dyes. Some come from contaminants in soil and water, like arsenic in rice and mercury in fish.

Some are created by the interaction of different chemicals found in food and water. For example, the NOC carcinogens in red and processed meat. Or the disinfection byproducts found in public water supplies. And then there's the issue of Genetically Modified Organisms and nanoparticles.

You can reduce your exposure to many of these food and water toxins by making some of the simple changes you'll find in the Healthy Eating section of this website.

2. The Pesticides on Your Food

Healthy eating includes lots of fruits and vegetables. But exposure to pesticide residues on produce is a health concern.

Every year the USDA conducts sampling of produce and water to test for pesticide residues. In its most recent report it found pesticide residues on 53% of the produce tested. The samples were washed before they were tested. The FDA, which also does annual sampling, found pesticide residues on 63% of fruits sampled and 39% of vegetables tested.

For solutions to reduce your exposure to pesticides check out the article Pesticides on Fruits and Vegetables.

3. The Toxins in Food Packaging

Next time you’re at the grocery store consider how the food you’re buying is packaged. Some packaging can transfer toxins into our food. Can linings, plastic food containers and stain resistant packaging are all sources of toxins.

Canned Foods

Bisphenol A, or BPA is not just used to make plastics. It is also used to make epoxy coatings that line most of the 131 billion food and beverage cans made in the U.S. annually. We now know that BPA leaches out of these containers and causes a variety of health issues, including endocrine disruptioncancer and reproductive problems.

Plastic Food Packaging

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the plastic of choice for condiments, salad dressings and a bunch of other food products. This was once considered a very stable and safe plastic. However, several studies conducted since 2007 are finding that PET is a source of endocrine disrupters, primarily antimony and phthalates.

Stain Resistant Packaging

Some food packaging, such as microwave popcorn bags, are treated with chemicals called fluorotelomers. These chemicals are a part of a class of chemicals that are used to make things stain and stick resistant called perfluorinated compounds (PFCs).

Study after study found the breakdown products of fluorotelomers (PFOA and PFOS) migrate into food. Study after study has also found numerous health effects from exposure to PFOA and PFOS.

4. The Cookware You Use

Non toxic cooking is about the cookware you use to prepare your food to reduce your toxin exposure.

Toxins emitted from cookware come primarily from non-stick surfaces. Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) are a class of chemicals that are used to make things stain and stick resistant. The two most common forms of PFC’s are PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate), used for stain resistance, and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), used to make products such as Teflon. These toxins leach from pots and pans and are known to cause serious health issues.

For solutions for avoiding PFC’s in cookware check out Non Toxic Cookware.

5. The Small Appliances You Use

Toxins emitted from small appliances come from two main sources: non-stick surfaces and plastic parts.

Non-stick - Non stick coatings (made with PFC’s), whether in cookware or small appliances, pose a health risk. Studies have shown that significant amounts of PFCs (in the form of PFOA) are released under normal cooking temperatures from items that are nonstick.

Plastic parts - The plastic components in small appliances are made with or include polycarbonate plastic, because it is strong and almost shatter-proof. But we know polycarbonate plastics contain BPA. Some appliances also include PVC so there is a potential for exposure to plasticizers, which are used to make PVC soft and flexible. Other types of plastics that may be in small appliances include polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS) and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS).

While the selection is a bit limited there are non toxic solutions for steamers, coffee makers, toaster ovens and electric grills.

6. The Way You Store Your Food

If you’re going to go to all the trouble to prepare healthy, organic meals in non toxic cookware, don’t blow your efforts by storing your leftovers in plastic.

Food storage containers are made from polycarbonate and polycarbonate replacement plastics (aka BPA-free). Plastic wraps and bags are made from either polyvinyl chloride (#3 PVC) or low density polyethylene (LDPE, #4). Studies have shown that plastic food storage containers, bags and wraps, even those considered BPA-free, release synthetic estrogen that can disrupt your endocrine system.

Stainless steel and glass containers and cloth bags are great non toxic food storage options.

Consuming lots of veggies, whole grains and lean proteins is a vital part of being healthy and staying healthy. Reducing your exposure to the toxins in food that can enter anywhere from farm to table may be just as important for protecting your health.

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