I’ve gotten several questions as to which food storage containers are BPA-free. While I’ve been answering these by email, I thought that it’s probably information that others are interested in, too, and thus worthy of a post.
The good news is that most brand-name, new food storage containers sold in the US are now BPA-free. The key words in that previous sentence are “brand-name” and “new.” Most “generic” or store brands don’t state whether or not they’re BPA-free. And unless they’re marked, it’s impossible to tell with used items sold at Salvation Army, Goodwill and other resale shops — virtually all brands contained BPA at one time or another and there is just no way of telling whether something was made before or after a company went BPA-free.
The primary reason that BPA was used in food storage products was to provide stain resistance in soft (not brittle) plastic. Therefore, a “seat of the pants” test for items that you already own is that if they stain easily, they’re probably BPA-free (no guarantees, though).
Here are the links to company websites and their statements regarding BPA, along with links to find the products on Amazon.
Sterilite — “all Sterilite food storage and kitchen items are BPA-free and phthalate-free.” (Sterilite website)
I really like the Sterilite locking containers (they call them Ultra-Seal), although they don’t fit together as closely as the Lock & Lock containers. Not all of their products actually lock on all four sides, however — and those that don’t can leak in rough conditions. See Sterilite containers on Amazon US (not available on Amazon CA or UK when I last checked).
Lock & Lock — does not have a corporate web site that I can find, but their products on Amazon are listed as BPA-free and many contain statements such as “these are all BPA free” in the product description (see an example).
All the Lock & Lock products I’ve purchased have been great and I’ve never had one break. However, I’ve gotten an few comments (and I do mean a few, maybe two or three) recently from readers who have had a locking tab break off. I don’t know how widespread the problem might be — reviews on Amazon are still quite good overall, but again I see a few comments about breakage. At this point, I’d still buy Lock & Lock (the last ones I purchased were about 6 months ago). See all Lock & Lock food storage containers on Amazon US, Amazon Canada or Amazon UK.
Rubbermaid –“No currently manufactured products contain BPA” — Rubbermaid website; also contains a link to show what older products do contain BPA, so you can check items you already have.
Rubbermaid makes all sorts of food storage products. I find that their “Lock-It” line works well, with silicone seals and latching locks. Their other lines are not bad, but can jostle open with the movement of a boat, even in protected waters. See all Rubbermaid Lock-It containers on Amazon US, Amazon Canada (these seem expensive to me and none are sold in sets; probably cheaper in retail stores) or Amazon UK (only one set available as I write this).
Tupperware — “As of March 2010, items sold by Tupperware US & CA are BPA free.” (Tupperware website)
Tupperware is another company that makes all sorts of food storage products, some suitable for use on a boat; some not. I’ve written about the Modular Mates (note that these are not locking) and the salt and pepper shakers.
Yeah, I know, water bottles aren’t really “food storage containers.” But if you’re concerned about BPA in food storage containers, you probably want to know about water bottles, too.
Why Worry About BPA?
BPA is one of those substances where there’s a difference of opinion as to how harmful it is. My position is “why risk it?” This seems to be what a lot of companies are thinking too, as they’re removing BPA from their products.
According to the Mayo Clinic web site:
Some research has shown that BPA can seep into food or beverages from containers that are made with BPA. Exposure to BPA is a concern because of possible health effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children.
However, the US FDA has not banned the use of BPA — it’s purely voluntary on the part of these companies.
If you have older containers that you suspect may contain BPA but don’t want to get rid of them, you can limit the potential for BPA to leach into food by not heating food in the container (say by putting it into the microwave) and not putting hot food into the container (wait until the food has cooled). (From the same Mayo Clinic web page)
Okay, I don’t want to get into a big discussion about whether you need to totally avoid BPA — I’m not a scientist. I’m simply writing this to help those who want to avoid BPA know which food storage containers are BPA-free.