After spending considerable time choosing organic produce and preparing nutritious food for our families, it can be pretty frustrating to learn that the products we are using to cook, bake, eat and store food with may actually put our families’ health at risk. Many household products you use every day contain potentially harmful chemicals. Here are the common chemicals that might be lurking in your kitchen.
CHEMICALS FROM PLASTIC
If you do use plastic in the kitchen, follow these plastic guidelines: Choose BPA-Free, PVC-free plastic. Do not heat plastic in the microwave (“microwave-safe” only means that the plastic won’t actually melt; the extreme heat of the oven will increase transference of chemicals.) Do not store fatty, greasy or acidic foods in plastic. Do not use scratched, badly worn or cloudy plastics for your food and beverages. Hand-wash plastics to avoid wear and tear.
How to avoid them: Use glass storage, Stainless steel food containers, Insulated food containers and Reusable bags.
PERFLUORINATED COMPOUNDS (PFCS)
This family of chemicals make products resist stains, and you will find them in products from nonstick pans and fast food wrappers to clothing and nail polish. They are likely carcinogens that are also linked to liver, kidney, and reproductive problems. Anything nonstick is suspect. Also be wary of greasy food wrapped in paper- that paper likely contains PFCs, unless you see the grease soaking through. When you’re storing food at home, avoid plastic storage containers. Safe and health cookware and bakeware >>
Aluminium is most dangerous when used for cookware. A soft metal, aluminium becomes highly reactive when heated; putting significant amounts into the food you’re cooking. Don’t be fooled by anodized aluminium products or items that are chemically treated to prevent the spread of the chemical. The chemical coating can easily scratch, chip or otherwise break down, leaving you back at square one. Either way, aluminium toxins have been linked to brain disorders.
How to avoid them: The alternatives are not surprising. Glass, cast iron, grade 304 stainless steel and ceramic cookware are your best options when it comes to safely heating your food. Just make sure the ceramic cookware isn’t glazed with heavy metals or other toxic coatings.
These are common preservatives that can disrupt hormones and have been linked to many health issues. Avoid any product that lists parabens on its ingredients label or these chemical names: phenoic, 4-hydroxybenzoic acid, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, 4-hydroxy-isodecylester and benzoic acid.
The trick about “fragrance” on packaging is that it can really be anything. It could be totally harmless, or it could be a known carcinogen. It’s a sneaky way for companies to hide some ingredients under a blanket term for “proprietary reasons.” I recommend looking for “free and clear” products to avoid fragrance, but even these sometimes contain fragrance. Reading the ingredients is your best bet. Avoid dish soaps and other kitchen cleaning products with “fragrance” or “parfum” on the label. Many fragranced household products, such as air fresheners, dish soap, even toilet paper. Because of proprietary laws, companies don’t have to disclose what’s in their scents, so you won’t find phthalates on a label. If you see the word “fragrance” on a label, there’s a good chance phthalates are present. Phthalates are known endocrine disruptors.
Triclosan is an aggressive antibacterial agent that can promote the growth of drug-resistant bacteria. Triclosan is found in most liquid dishwashing detergents and hand soaps labelled “antibacterial”. The American Medical Association has found no evidence that these antimicrobials make us healthier or safer, and they’re particularly concerned because they don’t want us overusing antibacterial chemicals- that’s how microbes develop resistance.
How to avoid them: Use simple detergents and soaps with short ingredient lists, and avoid antibacterial products with triclosan for home use. If you use a hand sanitizer, choose one that is alcohol-based and without triclosan.