Glass Bottles Prove “Human Friendly”
Glass is the only widely used packaging material that is "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
One of GPI’s followers on Facebook recently responded to a post with the comment that “glass is human friendly.” We agree. A growing body of academic research continues to show the potential harm to humans from bisphenol A (BPA) and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals used in the production of some plastics. The chemically inert qualities of glass have never made it more valuable.
Unlike other food and beverage packaging, glass is the only packaging material that doesn’t require a chemical or plastic liner that may affect the taste of food and beverages—and consumer health. Glass is made from 100% natural raw materials—silica sand, soda ash, limestone and recycled glass. These ingredients are “locked in” so they don’t migrate into food or beverages. In fact, glass is the only widely used packaging material that is “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
Food Processing Concerns
In late July, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a leading U.S. medical organization representing more than 60,000 pediatricians, issued guidelines for parents and children to avoid certain chemicals used in food processing. The pediatrics group issued a policy statement and a technical report recommending that families, and especially children, limit their use of plastic containers and canned foods to curb exposure to chemicals like phthalates and bisphenols such as BPA. They also cite health concerns related to the use of colorings, flavorings and chemicals added to food during processing.
The policy statement identifies the regulatory framework for certain chemicals as antiquated and based on an outdated understanding of science. An accompanying technical report cites mounting evidence of negative health effects in children from chemicals added to food in processing, such as flavoring and coloring, and substances indirectly affecting food through packaging and manufacturing, such as adhesives and coatings.
The group’s concerns are driven by escalating scientific evidence demonstrating that various chemicals entering foods may hinder healthy long-term childhood growth and development. Experts fear that these chemicals may have a range of side effects, including thyroid hormone disruption, endocrine disruption, brain development effects, increased risk of obesity and decreased birth weight. In the wake of this, they propose urgently needed reforms to the current regulatory process at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for food additives.
To help families make healthy choices, the AAP recommends prioritizing the consumption of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables whenever possible and reducing canned food consumption (most cans have a plastic liner). Additional steps to reduce chemical exposures to children include using alternatives to plastic, like glass or stainless steel, whenever possible.
Recommended guidelines include avoiding microwaving food or beverages—including infant formula and pumped breast milk—in plastic containers, and not placing plastic food containers in the dishwasher. Glass is best for microwaving. Finally, they advise checking the recycling code on the bottom of products and avoiding plastics with recycling codes 3, 6 and 7, which may contain phthalates, styrene, and bisphenols.
Glass packaging continues to be the gold standard. Naturally transparent and pure, glass is a trusted and proven container for health and taste. Glass bottles and jars are approximately 40% lighter than they were 30 years ago, 100% and endlessly recyclable, and do not harm oceans or marine life. This is why glass has been a preferred packaging choice for food and beverages since it was first created by Egyptians more than 3,000 years ago—and it has a bright future.
Any views or opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not represent those of Ceramic Industry, its staff, Editorial Advisory Board or BNP Media.