It is not surprising that practically everything we use is made with plastic since it is a very versatile and cheap material. There are a lot of different types of plastics and, depending on their use and their characteristics, it will be made up of some materials or others.
At first glance they may all seem the same, but nothing could be further from the truth. Each plastic is different and special care must be taken with its use, as they can be very dangerous in terms of toxicity.
Of course plastics have also reached the food sector, so it is worth knowing what we put in our mouths, and the risks we are running, or not, with their use.
One of the symbols that we see in this image must appear somewhere on all bottles and packaged foods. what they mean and their level of danger is something that is not detailed in any label, for that reason we are going to tell you what each of them is and if they are dangerous or not for health.
1-PET or PETE: Its scientific name is Polyethylene from Teleftarate. It is used for water and soda bottles and also in detergent containers or food cans. It is easily recyclable.
Risks: Depending on the temperatures to which it is subjected or its repeated use (filling of water bottles) it can release antimony and phthalate. It may seem alarming but it is not so alarming, since the concentrations necessary for it to affect our health are far from those measured in the studies of this plastic.
2- HDPE: Its scientific name is High Density Polyethylene. It is widely used in water or milk jugs, shampoo bottles, and some plastic bags. It is easily recycling.
Risks: There are no known health risks of this plastic, it is advised as the safest solution when storing food.
3- PVC: Its scientific name is Polyvinyl Chloride. It is used in food packages, oil cans, vinyl tubing, shower curtains, and window and door frames. It is not recyclable and it is very harmful to the environment.
Risks: The main pollutants, and although they do not affect us directly, is the amount of toxic products that are used in their manufacture and that result after their use. These toxins are, among others, lead, dioxin, ethylene vinyl chloride, etc.
They can be transferred to the food they contain and be very harmful to health. Among other things, they can cause low weight in newborns, cancer, poor immune system function, hormonal disorders, etc. We do not recommend that you consume products packed in PVC.
4- LDPE: Its scientific name is Low Density Polyethylene. It is used in plastic bags for frozen foods, most plastic wrap, and some bottles. It is not usually recycled.
Risks: In principle there are no known harmful effects for the body. It falls into the category of less dangerous plastic materials when it comes to storing liquids and food. Although it does not affect us directly, its production produces various organic pollutants.
5- PP: Its scientific name is Prolipropileno. It is used in soup sachets, yogurt and margarine containers, outdoor rugs, baby bottles, disposable diapers, etc. Its recycling is very complicated so it is not usually recycled.
Risks: There are no known harmful effects on the health of this plastic. It is considered the safest when it comes to serving as a container for food, which is why it is used in baby bottles, etc.
6- PS: Its scientific name is Polystyrene. It is used for almost everything depending on how it is made, from building insulation to food containers and disposable cutlery. It can be recycled, but doing so is economically unfeasible.
Risks: Styrene can leach into food and act as a long-term neurotoxin. May cause liver, kidney and stomach damage. If it is absorbed by food, it can accumulate in adipose tissue after ingestion with the aforementioned health consequences. Whenever you can avoid this plastic in food containers.
7- OTHER (others): This label is used to mark all those plastics that do not fall into the previous categories. It is used in making caps, medical containers, electronic components, baby bottles, water bottles, baby cups, transparent plastic cutlery, etc. They are very difficult or impossible to recycle.
Risks: The health effects can be very varied depending on the products that have been used in its manufacture. This type of plastics usually contains Bisphenol A (BPA) which is dangerous for health. BPA can cause genetic damage, behavioral changes, plays a role in certain types of cancers, is an endocrine breaker.
Despite all this, BPA continues to be studied, since it has recently been discovered that 95% of the population has traces of this substance in their body.
Now that you know what each symbol means and the danger posed by these plastics, simply take a good look at the symbol on the packaging of the food you are eating and act accordingly.
Our recommendation is to use glass containers whenever possible, avoid heating food in plastic containers as much as possible and try to choose recyclable plastics.
The Voice of the Wall