Why steer clear of plastics for storing food and drink?
If you’re on this website, you already know about conventional plastics. They are toxic to produce, toxic to dispose of and leach toxins that can cause cancers and reproductive disorders.
But I know, everyone now goes – “it’s BPA-free!” Well, did you know that even BPA-free plastics can release other equally potent and harmful toxins into our food and drinks? A common BPA substitute in plastics, bisphenol S (BPS), has been found in the urine of nearly 81% of Americans and it’s a chemical that affects cells in ways that parallel BPA.
Heat and wear dramatically increase the rate at which these toxins leach out from plastic - and we all know that baby bottles and foodware deal with heat and wear big-time!
Do yourself (and the earth!) a favour and choose leach-free materials like glass, stainless steel or ceramics for you and your family.
Glass is commonly regarded as the ideal material for containers for food and drink.
Glass also has long been trusted as the safest and most hygienic material for babies, because glass is chemically stable and does not absorb odours or tastes.
Unlike plastics, glass does not leach toxins into milk, juice or water. Plastic bottles, cups and foodware can scratch and scratches can harbour bacteria - but glass does not.
When buying glass, make sure to check that the type of glass is suited to your purpose. Soda lime glass is strong but not impervious to rapid temperature changes or impact. Tempered glass or borosilicate glass is heat-resistant and can go from freezer to oven without incident.
Why only food-grade stainless steel?
Unlike plastics, stainless steel does not leach toxins but do pay attention to its grade.
Stainless steel comes in different grades, with the grade referring to its quality, durability and temperature resistance. Only 18/8 and 18/10 stainless steel are considered food-grade. These two grades are resistant to corrosion by various food acids, and display increased corrosion resistance compared to some other grades of stainless steel (now you know why that stainless steel foodware you bought nonetheless rusted on you!).
As is the case with glass, food-grade stainless steel does not retain or impart flavours or odours. In fact, it's the same material that has been used in milk pasteurisation, beer brewing, cookware and eating utensils for years!
Bear in mind too that not all metals are equal!
Beware of aluminium! Aluminium can leach harmful substances when it gets hot or comes in contact with anything acidic. Studies have also linked aluminum exposure to Alzheimer's disease. So, to ensure that the drinks inside aluminum bottles are safe, the bottles must be lined with something.
The most common materials used to line aluminum bottles include plastic resins or baked-on epoxy, both of which can leach BPA and other harmful chemicals or can get scratched, exposing the aluminum underneath. Ceramic is another material used to line aluminum bottles, but it's more rigid and can crack.
On top of that, the liner can retain flavours and odours, which can make your drinks taste funky.
So check your metal bottles now and look for 18/8 or 18/10 stainless steel!
Ceramics have been used in foodware and drinkware since the ancient ages - for good reason!
Unlike plastics, ceramic are completely inert and will not leach toxins into your food and drink - but do make sure that it is lead-free and manufactured with glazes that do not contain cadmium! Lead and cadmium, once common components in ceramic manufacturing, are toxic metals that can cause adverse health effects in humans (such as mental impairment and kidney failure, respectively), especially when it comes to babies and young children. If you have purchased a ceramic item sold as craft, antique or collectable, we wouldn't recommend using it to hold food or drink!
Not to worry though, all ceramic products sold at Pur'itsy are certified lead-free and made with non-toxic glazes.
A note about silicone.
Silicone is made from silicon, the second most abundant element on earth and a chief component of sand. We’ve read the research and it shows that silicone remains stable at temperatures up to 150°C (at least). Above that, silicone can release small amounts of siloxanes, which have been associated with adverse health effects.
The good news is that a study examining siloxane migration from silicone nipples into milk and infant formula detected no contamination after 6 hours of direct contact. So we’d say, silicone nipples and teethers can be used without worry but don’t heat your silicones above 150°C - which means that sterilizing them with boiling water is fine, but don’t bake in them! As a matter of good practice, bottle nipples (silicone or otherwise) should be replaced every 2 to 3 months, at a minimum.
Also check your silicones before buying by pinching and twisting a flat surface on the product (tip: where no surface twists easily, we simply punch a fingernail into the material). Pure silicone will not change colour but if the product contains fillers (a potential source of contamination), white will show through.
You’ve nothing to worry at Pur’itsy though – we’ve pinched, twisted and poked all the silicone products we carry!
Unlike plastics, wood does not leach toxins, making it a safe material for baby to play with or even chew on. Wood is also a naturally germ-repellent surface - perfect for children!
When buying wood, choose products that use safe paints and finishes to ensure that the material is good inside and out.
Why eschew conventional household cleaners?
It’s odd to think, but conventional household cleaners really are far from clean! Conventional household cleaners contain a potent cocktail of toxic chemicals that have been linked to allergies, asthma, reproductive disorders and cancer, and they can adversely impact aquatic wildlife when released into waterways. For us, the choice was easy even before we read the science – we simply did not feel comfortable having baby crawling about on and eating off a surface that had been coated with something that comes with a poison warning!
For a healthier way to clean your homes, try pure soap, a natural anti-bacterial and disinfectant that can be used on anything (no more of the one-product-one-use wastage) or go with natural cleaners like vinegar and baking soda (watch out for our blog features on these safe but crazy-effective aids).
Why not anti-bacterial soap?
The short answer is that they don’t work better than conventional soap and could even be harmful for us! Firstly, there is no evidence that anti-bacterial soaps are any more effective than conventional soaps – so says the US Food & Drug Association following decades of research. Secondly, triclosan (the active ingredient in most antibacterials) appears to interfere with our bodies’ regulation of the thyroid hormone and studies have shown that prolonged exposure to triclosan increases a child’s likelihood of developing allergies. Thirdly, triclosan enters our rivers and streams when we wash it down our sinks and persists in our environment and wildlife – a 2009 study found concerning levels of the chemical in bottlenose dolphins off the US coast. Not cool.
On organic cotton.
We’ll be honest – we don’t insist on organic cotton 100% of the time. Baby wears gifts from family and friends, and we never reject hand-me-downs (in fact, we’re immensely grateful for them). Less wastage too!
But when given the chance, we try to pick organic cotton over conventional. Grown without the use of synthetic toxins, organic cotton is better for the environment and better for baby (the skin is our largest organ after all). Conventional cotton is often considered the world's dirtiest crop due to its heavy usage of pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilisers - and chemical residues persist in the end products, leading to potential health concerns in its wearers.
More importantly, we’ve come to learn that the companies that care enough to use organic cotton often also care enough to make a quality product that we won’t regret spending on.
What's harmful about Azo dyes?
Azo dyes are used to impart more intense hues to clothing. However, being loosely held on the fabric structure, azo dyes can easily rub off on the skin and release aromatic amines which can cause skin irritation or even cancer.
The EU AZO Colorants Directive, which came into force in September 2003, restricts certain azo dyes from being used in textile and leather articles which may come into direct and prolonged contact with the human skin or oral cavity. However, there is no such regulation in other countries.