Blog > Opinion , Your Health

Tips to avoid toxic chemicals in food

Posted on December 3, 2012

1d6f4d44618b0f432_smallBy Lindsay Dahl

We know the best solution for addressing toxic chemicals is for Congress to pass the Safe Chemicals Act, but in the meantime here are some tips to protect your family from toxic chemicals in food and packaging.


1)   Limit canned food and plastic containers.

Glass, stainless steel and lead- free ceramic are great alternatives to storing food in plastic containers. Canned food is one of our largest exposures to the toxic chemical BPA. But a study conducted by the Breast Cancer Fund and the Silent Spring Institute found that families can reduce their BPA levels by 60% in just three days by avoiding food packaging with BPA. Download the top ten  canned foods to avoid wallet card.

2)   Avoid non-stick pans.

They may seem convenient, but be wary of non-stick pans. Most non-stick cookware is made using PFOA – a toxic chemical linked to cancer and other health issues. Choose stainless steel, cast iron or enameled pots and pans instead.

3)   Popcorn the old fashioned way.

Most microwave popcorn bags are lined with toxic perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). This possible carcinogen shows up in french fry cups and pizza boxes as well. Try popcorn on the stove, or easy microwave technique using a brown paper bag

10 canned foods to avoid4)   Filter your drinking water.

Remove common contaminants like arsenic and lead from your drinking water by filtering with either a faucet unit or a water pitcher. Avoid buying plastic bottled water; instead, fill up a stainless steel water bottle with filtered water.

5)   Buy organic when possible.

Check out the “dirty dozen” list before you head to the grocery store. And remember organic doesn’t always have to be more expensive than pesticide-laden foods. Many farmers markets and community supported agriculture programs have cost competitive, healthy produce.

6)   Avoid food dyes.

Many foods on the market contain food dyes, 90% of which are derived from petroleum. Some studies show food dyes are linked to hyperactivity and other disturbed behavior in children. Use this searchable database to find which synthetic dyes are used in your favorite foods. For more information on food dyes download this factsheet here.

7)   Tell Congress to fix our broken laws.

Enough with this nonsense! Consumers shouldn’t have to bear the burden of avoiding toxic chemicals. We need Congress to get tough on toxic chemicals. Contact Congress today to tell them to update our laws on toxic chemicals. And then ask Congres to ban BPA in food packaging here.

For more tips on how to protect your family from toxic chemicals, check out our popular “tips” blog.

Follow Lindsay on Twitter: @Lindsay_SCHF @SaferChemicals


Absolutely. So many good ideas here. Eat fresh, eat local. We are what we eat. I'm so glad you included water in this list. Sometimes people do not realize chemicals can enter our bodies when we drink.

Posted by: Alexandra | Dec 5, 2012 12:51:25 PM

I didn't realize canned food was contaminated, I guess it is another reason to eat fresh foods! I agree, our laws are bad on this stuff, thanks for educating the masses.

Posted by: Heidi | Dec 3, 2012 9:48:25 AM

Great information, thanks for tips. I especially like the database of food dyes, who knew?!

Posted by: Jenny | Dec 3, 2012 8:30:28 AM

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