#BounceExclusive: How Dangerous Is Plastic Packaged Food And Beverage? (I)
As the world continues to raise concerns about the danger of likely effects of using plastic containers to package foods and beverages, Nigeria is not left out.
Few days ago, the House of Representatives summoned the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, to appear before it to explain likely effects of using plastic containers to package foods and beverages.
It also summoned Yetunde Oni, the acting Director-General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
The decision was sequel to a motion by Honorable Sergius Ogun (Edo-PDP) entitled: “Need to Regulate the Use of Bisphenol “A”(BPA) Plastics in the Production of Bottled Water”.
Ogun expressed concern over the effects of drinking water in plastic containers that had been left under the sun or near a heat source, which had been linked to degenerative diseases.
He explained that plastics were hydrocarbons obtained from crude oil which, when heated, became unstable and slowly release chemicals.
According to him, most plastics contain a chemical known as Bisphenol “A” (BPA), also known as “environmental estrogen” which causes reproductive defect and neurological abnormalities and prostrate issues.
Speaking exclusively to Bounce News, Dr Charles Nwosu, a Senior Scientist at Takeda Pharmaceutical (the largest in the world) based in the US, shared some insights on the dangers of plastic packaging of food and beverages.
"The issue of cancer for me comes from a personal level after losing my mum to colon cancer last year. I have extensively researched on possible sources of cancer for folks in Nigeria. Asbestos, eating suya and Microwaving foods in plastics is where I would say we should pay attention.
"Concerning plastics, there are several chemicals involved in the manufacture of plastics. In a simple way, I would say some of these chemicals are added to make sure the plastic is what it is meant to be. Unfortunately, when we microwave these plastics, we start heating them up and sometimes melt them.
"This leads to some of the plastic chemicals leaking into our food. Our naked eyes cannot see these chemicals leaking into our food and these chemicals have been linked to cancer.
“These chemicals are mainly organic chemicals with aromatic rings such as benzene and they disrupt the normal functioning of our cells. This is why I have been an advocate of 'preaching' to people to reduce or eliminate the habit of microwaving foods in plastic. Just use ceramic or metal plates."
Microwaves and Plastic: A Dangerous Combo
Plastic contains any number of endocrine-disrupting and other chemicals; heating it in the microwave accelerates their transfer into your food.
95 percent of plastic products subjected to real-world usage conditions, like microwaving, tested positive for estrogenic, hormone-disrupting activity.
Heat has been found to increase the rate of chemical transfer from plastic into food by up to 55-fold.
Plastic ‘Microwaveable’ Containers Increase Your Risk of High Blood Pressure
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends any plastic containers you use in the microwave should be labeled for microwave oven use. But such containers may not be much safer than standard plastics.
“Microwaveable” containers may be formulated with supposedly “safer” chemicals. Diisononyl phthalate (DINP) and diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP), for instance, have been used to replace di-2-ethylhexylphthalate (DEHP), an endocrine-disrupting phthalate known to cause reproductive toxicity.
DEHP is highly lipophilic (fat soluble), and when used in PVC plastic is only loosely chemically bonded to the plastic. It readily leaches into blood (when used in IV tubing, for example) or other lipid-containing solutions in contact with the plastic.
DINP and DIDP have been touted as safer alternatives, but they, too, have been linked to health concerns, including high blood pressure.8 Microwaving food in #7 polycarbonate plastic, in particular, should be avoided, even if it is labeled microwave-safe.
Anti-depressants Causing Birth Defects and Are Found in Water Supplies.
Dr Charles said, "I don’t recommend storing your food in plastic or cooking it in a microwave, but if you’re going to use either, at least don’t use them together. Microwaving food in a plastic container virtually guarantees that your food will be contaminated with plastics chemicals that have leached into your food during the heating process.
"There’s no arguing that plastic is convenient, inexpensive, and virtually unbreakable, making it tempting to use for food storage, especially while you’re out and about. However, though it seems perfectly safe, plastic is made with a veritable stew of chemicals.
The concluding part will be published on Monday, July 3rd.