BPA Free has been claimed in every plastic container ever sold in the last few years including baby bottles, but what is the truth about BPA and why has it become popular for baby bottle brands to be free from it?
Plenty have been written about it but they are either too technical that it ends up very hard to understand or too simple that it doesn’t really tell much.
At Nimble Babies, we commit to make things easier and simpler for parents, including reading up on things that matter for our little ones. So here are 3 things to know about BPA Free plastics.
#1 What is BPA?
BPA or Bisphenol A is a chemical invented by a Russian chemist, Aleksandr Dianin, in 1891 and has been used since the 1950s to harden a class of plastics called polycarbonate, which was the perfect plastic for baby bottles because it was clear and nearly shatter-proof. But BPA can leach out of polycarbonate when exposed to high heat or harsh chemicals.
It is worth noting that the use of BPA is not limited to plastic containers, it is also used in other day-to-day items like paper used for till receipts, lining for canned goods (soft drinks, canned soup, etc) and water pipes. So exposure to BPA is more common than we think.
#2 Is it safe or not?
According to the US FDA and European Food Safety Authority, plastics containing BPA are safe when used as intended because the amount of BPA that leaches out from them is so little.
But as we all know, anything in excess is always not safe. High levels of BPA can result to higher chances of breast and prostate cancer, as well as altered menstrual cycles and diabetes in lab rats. But to have this effect, they had to orally dose 100-1000 times more BPA than people are exposed to.
It is very unlikely to be exposed to this much BPA, but as a precaution, it does not hurt to use BPA free containers, particularly for our little ones whose bodies are still developing and still not able to process more complex chemicals.
#3 Are BPA free plastics safe?
For plastics made of polycarbonate, instead of using BPA, plastic manufacturers now use Bisphenol S (BPS) or Bisphenol F (BPF). Although they have similar effects to BPA when ingested at high levels, they do not leach out from plastic as much as BPA does, so the risk of getting exposed to them has dramatically decreased, hence safer to use. Check out our Best Baby Bottles blog to have a look at different BPA-free baby bottles.
There are also other classes of plastics, polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE), now being used for baby bottles, and they do not contain BPA, BPS or BPF. These plastics are usually indicated by a chasing recycling sign under the bottles with numbers 1, 2, 4 or 5.
What should we do then?
A good practice recommended by experts is not to expose plastic containers (with or without BPA) to high temperatures or harsh chemicals so the plastic can remain intact and not leach unwanted things into our food or drink.
If possible, do not use boiling water when preparing milk in baby bottles. Try to let it cool down a little before using it. Also, avoid heating baby bottles using the microwave. Try to use coffee or tea cups for heating with microwave, then just transfer the heated milk into baby bottles.
Another thing to avoid is harsh washing-up liquids that can cause stress to the plastic, resulting to chemicals leaching into the milk and here at Nimble, we’ve created Milk Buster, which is an award-winning baby bottle cleaner made with plant-based ingredients that effectively washes away cloudiness and smelly odour left behind by milk residues.