How to Tell If Plastic Is BPA Free

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Which food and beverage containers are BPA free?
Which food and beverage containers are BPA free? (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used to create polycarbonate products. Since the1960s, manufacturers have used BPA in hard plastic containers and food cans. Studies show that the BPA from these containers leach into the foods and beverages they hold. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, recent studies raised concerns over the effect of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate glands of fetuses, babies and young children.

Check the recycling number on the bottom of the container. This number, usually located in a small triangle, identifies the type of plastic the container is made of.

Determine if the triangle contains No. 7. BPA containers should have a number seven. However, not all No. 7 products contain BPA. Call the manufacturer to see if the product is BPA free.

Look for the numbers "1," "2" or "5" on the bottom of products. Containers with these numbers are free from BPA.

Assess if the plastic is soft and pliable. These types of plastics are typically BPA free. Bisphenol A- containing polycarbonate containers are usually made of translucent, hard plastic, such as in reusable water bottles and baby bottles.

Tips & Warnings

  • High acidic foods, such as tomatoes and fruit juices, leach the most amount of BPA from cans and plastic containers. Purchase these types of foods in glass containers whenever possible.
  • Soft plastic water bottles are free from BPA but are intended for one-time use only. Do not refill this type of bottle. Use a BPA-free sports bottle instead.
  • Avoid using plastic containers to microwave food and beverages. Even if the container states it is microwave safe, there have not been enough studies in this area to ensure public safety.

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