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With fall in full force and Thanksgiving looming on the horizon, I started to stock up on some kitchen staples that I don’t buy at other times of the year. A favorite is pumpkin puree that comes in a shelf-stable box, which I use to make soup. During the summer it’s easy to eat mostly fresh food but during the colder months, I admittedly look for a few short cuts. My pumpkin puree got me thinking about aseptic boxed packing, more commonly known by its brand name, Tetra Pak.
I remember when I first started to see items that were typically packaged in aluminum cans cropping up in boxed packaging in the supermarket. I had sworn off canned food because of concerns about BPA in the lining and was happy to have a safer alternative for the few packaged staples I liked to have on hand. But my recent pumpkin purchase got me wondering, just how safe are Tetra Paks?
Tetra Paks are made with 75% paperboard, 20% polyethylene, and 5% aluminum and the layers are adhered using heat and pressure. Polyethylene is the only material that comes in contact with food. Food-grade polyethylene is considered one of the safest plastics but, as I wrote about in this post, even plastics thought to be safe can leach chemicals with estrogenic activity.
I only found one study that specifically tested Tetra Paks and it concluded that Tetra Paks showed estrogenic contamination similar to that from plastic water bottles. So, are they any safer than cans? Cans with BPA lining have been widely tested and are known to leach BPA. The evidence is clear that they are best avoided. Read more here about BPA-free cans and why they may not be any safer. The evidence is not as clear for Tetra Paks, but there is enough to cause concern. I’ll be keeping my purchases of boxed shelf-stable food to a minimum. Fortunately, more products are being introduced in glass jars, such as organic diced tomatoes, ready-made soups, and nut milks. Glass is the safer choice.
Question from Karen
I know that Debra has recommended Le Creuset in the past and I would love to own one one day, but its just not in the budget for me right now. When I was in Ikea the other day I noticed they have their own enameled steel pot. It says that the materials are just steel and enamel and that there is no lead or cadmium added.
Do you think this is a safe alternative or is there more information that I need?
Question from Stacey
I am trying to find affordable, safe, comfortable dining chairs for my family. I see one company makes a slipcovered chair but the slipcover is made of polyester. The foam in the chair is polyurethane and polyester-wrapped. A customer service rep told me that this company does not add flame retardants to any furniture (Pottery Barn). The slipcovers are washable, which I would wash a couple times before first use. Would you say these chairs are just too toxic and not safe, or would they be okay?
Question from Lisa
Staub is on your list of safe products. But does include their ceramic stone ware rectangular baking dish here?
I read your post about enamel coating- it’s essentially glass sometime mixed with something else.
But this uses “porcelain enamel.” It’s my understanding enamel is as you describe glass based. Porcelain though is clay based. So what is “porcelain enamel.”? Does that meet your safe criteria?
To make it more confusing it’s called “stoneware.” Does that give you an idea what the enamel is coating exactly?
Question from Karen
I am shopping for a non toxic mattress. Do you have a list of Comfortable mattress that is not drowned in flame retardant ?
Question from John
I moving into a new apartment How shoud i go about storing my clothing, pots, pans, and etc when having to work with an apartment where you cant determine what materials the closets and cabinets are made of or if you know they are made of things such as mdf,particleboard, etc
Question from John
Painters painted our room with eco spec claimed no smell I went in 3 days later not much smell but I felt poisoned with a headache
Fans going windows opened
I have asthma
Any suggestion? Or experience with this paint?
Question from David
I was trying to put floor in kitchen called life breath vinyle and have one box in room to test no odour and voc and philates free I am mcs so odour big for me is this floor okay to use I have filter with hepa and carbon running in room
Question from Pam
Who creates a non-toxic kitchen environment? IKEA??
Question from TL
I hope u can help provide more educational information related to hydroponics materials used to make the plastic frames, net pots etc. Most sellers claim they are HDPE food grade so totally safe to use at home. But as consumers, how do we know if they are truly HDPE Food Grade materials? My concern is there any such recognized industry standards that the sellers have to produce to substantiate their claims as totally HDPE food grade, safe for human consumption?