I ordered some red palm oil by mail, but when i arrived i found that it was in a plastic container! I usually avoid foods which are in contact with plastic due to the potential for food to absorb estrogenic compounds, especially oils.
Any thoughts on this?
Several research studies have found that when plastic comes in contact with certain foods, molecules of the chemicals in the plastic can leach into the food or beverage. Certain characteristics of the food item can make it more likely pick up plastic molecules:
The more liquid a food is, the more it touches the plastic, so the more opportunity it has to pick up plastic molecules.
Acid foods, such as tomato sauce, appear to be particularly interactive with plastic.
If you heat a food item in a plastic container—even if the container is microwave safe—the transference of plastic from the container to the food is even more likely.
When molecules of plastic—or more properly, molecules of the chemicals that get added to plastics during manufacturing—get into our bodies, it's not a good thing. They can cause unwanted effects in the human body; for instance, some of the chemicals mimic estrogen. Estrogen, of course, is a normal, essential human hormone; but having too much of it (or the molecules that mimic estrogen) has been associated with breast cancer and other health problems. In general, chemicals that fool the body into thinking they are estrogen or other hormones are called endocrine disruptors.
It's quite reasonable to have a mix of glass and plastic in your fleet of containers. Use the plastic for "non-liquidy" foods when you have them, and use glass or porcelain containers for the rest. As the plastic containers wear out—and they all do, eventually—you can continue the transition to "more glass, less plastic." If you do continue to use plastic storage containers, you should at least stop microwaving food in them. There is one place you DON'T want to use glass storage containers: the freezer. Crack!
The threat of chemicals from plastic-ware getting into your food and then into your body may not rise to the level of threat posed by, say, eating a bicycle on a dare, but it's a good idea to slowly transition away from plastic storage. The only downside—you'll no longer be able to say, "Uh, thanks, Grandma, but I can't eat any of the leftover okra-rhubarb lasagna because you put it in a plastic container."