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Recently, I posted several blog posts about how I’m removing plastic from various areas of my life. Since I started this series, I’ve come upon more information that I’d like to share with you, then tell you how I’m using the information to make decisions about my fermentation practices.
The Dangers of Non-BPA Plastics
Currently, you can find a number of articles about the chemicals that manufacturers are replacing BPA with. It looks like in every case, it’s another bisphenol compound, and it is just as potentially bad as BPA. BPS, one of the current favorites, stays in urine longer than BPA does. In other words, it takes longer to break down in your body, so you get more exposure to it after you’ve consumed it than you would with BPA. One study says that BPS is just as toxic and just as estrogenic as BPA. The study said that they were of “comparable potency.”
Further, another study that tested plastics under real world uses such as repeated use and washings in a dishwasher showed that 95% of all plastics release estrogen-mimicing compounds that you can ingest. In that link, EA stands for ‘estrogenic activity.’ The results of the study state, in part:
Products currently marketed as BPA free are not EA free. In response to market and regulatory pressures to eliminate BPA in HC plastics, BPA-free HC materials have recently been introduced as replacements for PC resins. PET and PETG are two such resins, but HC plastic products made from these resins leached chemicals that had detectable EA (Tables 1–3, Figures 2 and 3), often in the absence of exposure to common-use stresses. Two popular brands of water bottles made from a PETG resin now marketed as an HC BPA-free replacement also released chemicals having significant EA (W1, W2, W3, and W4; Table 3, Figures 2 and 3), as did uncompounded PETG resins (Table 3). Most PE/PP-based plastic products were presumably BPA free but nevertheless had readily detectable EA (Tables 1 and 2), almost certainly due to one or more additives having EA. Many components of BPA-free baby bottles had reliably detectable EA (22–95% RME2) when extracted in either saline or EtOH, including the bottle, nipple, anticolic device, and liner (data not shown).
In other words, the chemicals they are using to replace BPA leech just as much estrogenic activity-causing compounds as BPA did! The study goes on to show that exposure to light can actually cause these compounds to leech MORE estrogenic compounds than BPA did.
Why is it allowed? Well, the science about BPS and other non-BPA bisphenol compounds is still in its infancy. It will be years before it becomes public, and in the meantime, manufacturers can cash in on the BPA-free frenzy and publicity. In the meantime, people’s health will suffer.
If you’d like to read more, this article by The Atlantic gives more information.
Currently, glass and stainless steel are looking better all the time. This just further solidifies my commitment to eliminating all of the plastic I can from our home. I don’t want my foods touching plastics and I will do what I can to minimize touching other known BPA-containing substances such as non-carbon receipts and cash.
You can read about how we’ve been eliminating plastic-containing items from our kitchen and our herbal infusions in these posts. We’ll talk about replacing plastic in the freezer soon. Today, let’s talk about plastics and fermentation.
Applying It To Fermentation
Since ferments are known to have the ability to detox, I’m especially concerned about the potential for ferments to pull toxins into the brine. Therefore, I will only allow glass or clay to touch all of my fermented foods. This has strengthened my commitment to fermenting only in a Harsch or a Pickl-It. The Harch is completely clay. The Pickl-It is all glass with a silicone grommet specifically formulated by Pickl-It to be free of toxins.
In addition, acid has an effect on the leeching rate of plastics. It wasn’t hard to find many articles telling you not to put acidic liquids into a plastic container because BPA would leech into them. It stands to reason that if BPA would leech with acid, it’s quite possible that other bisphenol compounds would, too. Ferments are acidic, so I don’t want them anywhere near any plastic until we know more about the leeching issue.
Fermentation Friday Linky Party
My friends at Nourished Living Network have more on fermentation today. We share our fermentation posts every Friday.
Jessica at Delicious Obsessions shared her recipe review of the Indian Spiced Cauliflower recipe from Pickle Me Too. Jessica adapted the recipe for the Pickl-It and added her own personal touch on this amazing fermented recipe. According to Jessica, it’s one the best ferments she’s ever tasted!