Snacks and packed lunches | Breast Cancer UK

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Snacks and packed lunches

Whilst more efforts are now being made to ensure your child's lunch box is full of nutritious and healthy foods, there is still a tendency to wrap it and pack it in plastic, cling film and polycarbonate.  We have known for years that  the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), used in polycarbonate bottles and food containers is a hormone disrupting chemical, but recent research suggests that many commercially available plastic products leach oestrogenic chemicals when exposed to every day use, despite being marketed as 'BPA free'.  

Fortunately, UK PVC cling film is no longer made using phthalates, but research shows that the chemicals used instead, di-2-ethylhexyl adipate (DEHA) and acetyltributyl citrate (ATBC) are just as likely to leach into food contents. Scientific data suggests that whilst there is "limited evidence of carcinogenicity in animals"  both DEHA and ATBC have been linked to skin and eye irritations and DEHA is classified as an endocrine disrupting chemical. So it makes sense to try and avoid plastic packaging wherever possible to ensure your child doesn't get a dose of toxic chemicals along with their sandwiches and snacks at lunch time. 

Our advice:

  • Avoid wrapping sandwiches and snacks in PVC cling film; 
  • Choose alternatives like greaseproof paper (which don't contain perfluoroalkyl substances) or reusable fabric bags;
  • Pack fruit and veg in bento boxes or food grade stainless steel pots;
  • Choose metal cutlery or bamboo sporks instead of plastic spoons for yoghurts and puddings;
  • Avoid foods in plastic squeezy tubes that your child will need to suck; and,
  • Go organic where possible - organic fruit and veg are likely to have fewer harmful pesticides residues than non organic alternatives. 

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