Three Dangerous Food Toxins

Shocking new research shows that high levels of harmful chemicals are lurking in the foods we eat every day. Here's how to keep them off your plate.

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The Hidden Danger

Often referred to as BPA, this chemical is used to create clear, hard plastics (such as reuseable water bottles) and line metal cans to protect us from botulism. Unfortunately, animal studies have shown that high levels of BPA lead to obesity, fertility problems, breast and prostate cancers, diabetes and heart disease. Even more troubling - human studies are beginning to show similar results.

Recent tests discovered that more than 90% of us have a measurable level of BPA in our bloodstreams and experts say that children who eat several daily servings of canned food (which includes juices, infant formula, as well as fruits and vegetables) can receive a dose of BPA comparable to the levels that caused harm in animal studies.

Your Safety Strategy

  • Steer clear of any containers with the number 7 and the initials PC on the bottom as well as any clear, hard plastic containers with no labeling.
  • Buy BPA-free baby bottles and training cups.
  • Switch to stainless steel or aluminum sports water bottles.
  • Heat food in glass containers in the microwave.
  • Look for alternatives to canned food, beverages, and infant formula. Choose fresh or frozen whenever possible.


Even though we always hear about the benefits of organic food, one-third of all fruits and vegetables sold in this country are still covered in pesticides. These poisons, which are intended to kill pests, can also hurt us . Research shows that some of them - called neurotoxins - can harm our brains and nervous systems. One recent study found that children with a high level of a certain pesticide had an increased chance of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and developmental disorders similar to autism. Other pesticides, which mimic hormone activity, can possibly reduce fertility. And scientists recently discovered that exposure to one of the most common weed killers increased weight gain in animals by 10%.

Your Safety Strategy

A Seattle study demonstrates how going organic can immediately affect our health. Researchers tested the urine of a group of typical suburban kids and found pesticide levels above those considered safe by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Then they switched the kids to organic versions of the same foods, and the pesticide level in their urine dropped overnight and stayed low. When the children were returned to their regular diets, their pesticide levels shot right back up above the EPA safety limits.

  • Go organic when it counts. Save your money for the fruits and vegetables most likely to contain pesticides (check out our guide to When to Go Organic [LINK]) and to those you eat frequently. As a general rule, fruits and vegetables with thicker rinds such as bananas, oranges, and avocados will have lower levels of pesticides than those with more permeable skin such as potatoes and strawberries.
  • Eat seasonal and local produce, which will have a lower pesticide level, because it does not have to travel far to get to your table.