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How to Avoid PVC in Plastic Food Wrap

Have you ever wondered about the safety of the plastic wrap used by grocery stores for cheese and meats?   It looks like the same type of plastic wrap that most of us use at home, right?  And we’ve learned that the major plastic wrap brands (Saran, Glad, etc.) are made from low density polyethylene (LDPE, #4) which is considered a safer plastic.  But with a little digging, you’ll quickly find that most of the plastic wrap used by supermarkets is made from a PVC based plastic (#3), not to mention the styrofoam tray (#6) its sitting in!  This type of plastic wrap is often referred to as “cling wrap” or “food wrap film” and is more durable, airtight and moisture resistant.

We’ve discussed the woes of PVC a lot over the last two years, but how does it affect our food as a plastic wrap?  In order to be soft and stretchy, PVC requires a plasticizer – many of which are toxic to humans.  The Mindful Momma explains why we should be concernced:

These PVC-based cling wraps contain a liquid plasticizer called DEHA (Di-ethylhexyl).  While the FDA considers it safe for food use, numerous studies have confirmed that DEHA can leach out of plastic wrap and into food. Since DEHA is a possible human carcinogen that affects the liver in particular, it might be a good idea to avoid it.  Foods like cheese and deli meats are of the most concern because they are capable of absorbing higher quantities of DEHA.  Also, vinyl chloride, the main building block of PVC, is a known human carcinogen.  Apparently, there’s a lot of controversy about whether plastic wrap is really harmful or not, but my feeling is – stay on the safe side – especially when kids are involved.

Avoiding PVC food wrap isn’t easy.  The best way to start is to ask your butcher to prepare the cuts of meat you want and wrap it in paper.  Most butcher or freezer paper is coated with wax or polyethylene which are better alternatives. As for blocks of cheese, look for packages with Ziploc style closures, and plastic packages that have been heat-sealed, because most of these bags are made from polyethylene.

Of course the best way to locate PVC-free food is to purchase fresh ingredients from farmer’s markets or through Community Supported Agriculture programs.  Also some natural food store don’t wrap all the produce in plastic, and use paper wrap and bags instead.

A few additional eco-friendly paper wrap options you can suggest for your local grocery store or use at home are Green Wacks Earth Friendly Food Wrap and Papercon EcoCraft Natural Freezer Paper.

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Alicia Voorhies is a Registered Nurse who decided to take a break to relax and enjoy her young kids after 13 years of working with disabled adults. She began to explore the world of alternative health ideas and was immediately attracted to the mysteries of endocrine disruptors and their effect on children. In 2007 she founded The Soft Landing along with her mom and sisters to help parents provide a safe, natural home for their children without drowning in an overwhelming sea of information.

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  • suprnoodle

    um. everything I've ever read says PVC plastic is #3, not 6

  • Fruitfulvine2

    That's very helpful. I did wonder about that. Thanks.

  • erin

    Thank you for providing reasonable suggestions for alternatives :) So often you just hear “don't!” and “avoid” but with no reasonable ideas for what to do instead!

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  • TheCensor

    Whole Foods sells plastic wraps, plastic “ziplock” type bags and plastic “rubbermaid” type containers. They are PVC and plastcizies free. And it costs about the same as supermarket brands.

  • Ara

    I didn't know that too.. Thank you for your helpful information. I've learned a lot. Happy Tiffin

  • Ara

    I didn't know that too.. Thank you for your helpful information. I've learned a lot. Happy Tiffin

  • Pingback: Guest Blog: How to Plan Toxic-free Holiday Meals | A green living, green parenting blog

  • Jan

    I now purchase more glass bowls with lids to freeze many things in my freezer. I cannot stand the smell that plastic wrap gives off. I have MCS. I also have read to use cotton towels to wrap foods for fridge like produce. Just bought some all cotton flour sacks at Walmart that were cheap. Remember to always wash fabric as soon as you get it home and not to use scented soap ever to keep us safe. I have MCS and now have to live a lonely life….

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