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Let's talk glass and food packaging and safety - share your thoughts and you could win a £250 JL voucher NOW CLOSED

(133 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 13-May-14 11:31:03

We have been asked by the team at Friends of Glass to find out your opinion about health risks from food packaging.

Friends of Glass are an influential European consumer forum that supports and promotes the right of consumers to be able to choose food and drink products in glass packaging. It unites all those who believe glass is the clear choice for their health, their families and for the environment. Friends of Glass was created by British Glass and the European Container Glass Federation (FEVE) in 2009. Their mission is to promote glass packaging and glass recycling.

They say "According to some new research launched today, 2 out of 3 parents in the EU are concerned about the migration of harmful substances from packaging into their children's food and drink. Are you one of these parents? We'd love to find out more about these concerns. We know that chemicals found in some types of food packaging can diffuse into the food and drink they contain in small amounts. There is a body of scientific research that says not enough is known about the effects of these chemicals on the human body and could be harmful to health over the long term. One of the more well-known chemicals, BP-A (Bisphenol A) is banned in children’s food and drink packaging in some countries such as France. You may be aware of the Breast Cancer UK campaign against BP-A called 'No More BPA'.

"We love glass as it's inert and therefore requires no chemical layer to protect its contents, unlike other packaging materials. Of course, glass can break but major advances in the way glass containers are produced have resulted in much lighter yet more resilient bottles and jars. Glass is also 100% recyclable so good for the environment and can be safely used in the microwave, steriliser and dishwasher over and over again with no deterioration".

So please share on this thread your opinion on the following: all comments welcome
~ Do you worry or are you concerned about the safety of food and drink packaging? In what ways do you worry/ are you concerned? Do you understand the issues around this topic? What don't you understand?
~ Are you aware of the safer options? If so, what do you consider them to be?
~ Do you consider glass packaging safer than plastic, and would it be your preference?

Friends of Glass are interested in your views and whether you would like to see more products available in glass packaging and any other views you have on the topic.

Everyone who adds a comment to this thread will be entered into a prize draw where one MNer will win a £250 JL voucher.

Thanks and good luck
MNHQ

PS Friends of Glass are interested in speaking to some MNers directly after this thread - if they'd like to speak to you we will PM you (no obligation)

ouryve Tue 13-May-14 12:08:07

I don't overly worry, but plastic uses oil which is such a finite resource and not all plastics can be recycled. Glass jars are so much easier to recycle. They even seem to

I don't mind drinks being in plastic bottles, though. It gives my DS more independence when he wants to prepare himself a drink. He's pretty clumsy and a lot of things get dropped and spilt.

I can't say I worry much about the safety of plastic packaging. The sustainability, yes, but not the safety.

As for a preference for glass - well, we don't buy all that much which comes in plastic bottles TBH (fizzy water, milk, and ribena are the only examples I can think of and ribena is a very infrequent purchase as I am mean and nasty mother and make my DC drink water most of the time ) but I think if glass bottles were the same price as plastic then I would probably choose glass - but they are not the same price, because they cost more to produce and transport, so making them the same price would mean either the manufacturer or the retailer accepting lower margins on glass packaged bottles, which I can't see happening somehow. That's being so, I will continue to choose the lowest cost per litre for the product I want.

rootypig Tue 13-May-14 12:24:00

I do worry to some degree - I would never drink bottled water unless I had no other option, for example. But then I buy things like milk in plastic bottles and never give it a second though confused. I suppose since we're offered no choice, I never think about it.

I would like to see more things in glass - in Ireland and France I buy farm yoghurts in glass and ceramic pots which I love, and reuse endlessly. I remember well the system of milk in glass bottles when I was a child - washing them and returning them to the doorstep for the milkman. Seems eminently sensible now.

Presumably the issues for migration are at their worst for liquids? so this is the main one for me, milk. I live in a city and buy milk from the supermarket, and I buy organic because it is such a large part of DD's diet. I would love to be able to get organic milk and raw milk for her from local farms.

On another note, I live in east London near a grocery shop called Unpackaged, where dry and some other goods were sold from bulk bins, by weight - you brought your own packaging. It's full circle, really, isn't it - it reminds me of reading Little House on the Prairie, and the way the town stores worked! I like this. The more life goes on, the more I think I'll end up shopping the way my nanny used to - greengrocer, baker, butcher. I see the advantages as being: support for community businesses; better and hopefully more local food; reduced packaging.

JonathanGirl Tue 13-May-14 12:31:44

I've never thought to worry about it, from a safety point of view.

My main concern when shopping is weight, because I have to carry it all home - no car; that probably puts me off too many glass bottles and jars.

Our local shop does sell milk, juice and water in glass bottles, but I don't usually buy them.

Roseformeplease Tue 13-May-14 12:35:22

~ Do you worry or are you concerned about the safety of food and drink packaging?

Sometimes, particularly as packaging always seems to be changing and I am concerned about the way in which chemicals in the packaging might get into the food. Milk, for example. As children, we had glass bottles, now we have tetrapak or plastic bottles.

In what ways do you worry/ are you concerned? Apart from chemicals, there are some kinds of packaging that can easily and cheaply be recycled. Glass bottles used to go back to the shop for a 1p return on the bottle.

Do you understand the issues around this topic? What don't you understand?

I think I do, to an extent, but I am always keen to be more informed.

~ Are you aware of the safer options? If so, what do you consider them to be? There are safer options, but are they always available. I don't have a choice as to what type of carton I buy things in and I barely have a choice of brands in our local shop.
~ Do you consider glass packaging safer than plastic, and would it be your preference? I would prefer it as long as recycling in my area was made easier. Glass is not collected, you have to transport it yourself so this can cause issues.

doradoo Tue 13-May-14 12:45:05

I live in Germany and here we have the choice for most items of glass/plastic/tin cans etc. I love the fact that I can choose a resealable glass jar for things - and then know it can be properly recycled / reused.

Most of our bottles (beer/water/juice/milketc) still have a deposit on them (even for the plastics) and many are reused several times before being recycled.

There is no particular price differential either between products in glass -v- tetrapak for example.

I think it would be beneficial for both health and environmental reasons if more glass were available in the UK - and hope to see it continue to be easily available here in Germany.

BeCool Tue 13-May-14 12:53:29

Yes I am concerned about food packaging and potential leaching of chemicals into our food - plastics, tin, tetrapack too. All have issues.

I would love to see more glass used and more products available in glass - however there are issues re weight and breakage.

I love the Germany system where you pay a refundable deposit for glass containers. Not only does this assist recycling, but I think attaching a value to glass in this way will support the value and importance of glass that other packaging doesn't have.

Of course with jars etc you still have an issue with the lids to be addressed.

I would always choose glass over plastic, but to be honest there is very little choice available in the UK. I find that plastic packaged goods also tend to be over-packaged too…plastic and cardboard which then have to be separated out before recycling, adding to waste in terms of time and convenience and not just materials.

As for safety concerns with plastic - it is all the unknowns that are a concern - how are different foods affected? Do the chemicals that are leached out at high enough levels to cause harm? You know where you are will glass - the dangers of breakage are easily understood and mitigated against and on top of that you have something that remains useful long after its original purpose ends.

gottasmile Tue 13-May-14 13:05:18

My dd was born in Canada where there seemed to be a lot more awareness about plastics not being good for people. I used glass bottles for dd (after the breast feeding stage when out and about). I had to replace a few, but it was worth it considering the risk of leaching plastic that was being talked about a lot over there.

I also use glass containers instead of Tupperware. (they do have plastic lids but the food doesn't touch the lids) I freeze food in them and they can go straight in the microwave if needed.

I would love to see milk in glass bottles in the supermarket. I buy tomato sauce for pasta in a glass bottle but I can't buy things like chopped tomatoes and tuna in glass. I've heard that the lining of these tins/cans can leach into food too.

There are enough environmental hazards that can affect our health, I wish the food industry would look more closely at the effects of their packaging. I'd love not to have to buy things in plastic and tins/cans.

UniS Tue 13-May-14 13:07:08

I'd like to get milk in glass bottles but our new milk delivery service does plastic only.

mistlethrush Tue 13-May-14 13:13:04

Yes, I would like more opportunity to buy in glass - but only if there was a lot more standardisation of product packaging so that a large range of things were packed in the same jars - which could then be returned to the store you got them from and sent back to the original manufacturer for washing and refilling. You could easily use the vehicle that is delivering the goods to the store to take the bottles away, and they would go back to the depot, waiting from the next delivery from the producer of the products and that delivery van (now empty) could take them back then. There would be some costs - added weight of delivery vehicles - however, surely this would be a more sustainable use of resources than the current?

Ellisisland Tue 13-May-14 13:15:06

Yes I do worry about it. I think that it is an issue particularly with plastic bottles being reused in the home.

I always prefer glass bottles to plastic but it is very hard to find glass options. I have seen covers for glass bottles available that you can put over the glass bottle so if it gets dropped it won't smash.

zen1 Tue 13-May-14 13:26:10

I worry about the use of BPA in food / drink packaging and where there is an option (eg children's drinks bottles) buy BPA-free products. I am concerned about the packaging used in breakfast cereals and would like to see 'safe' materials used for these and for companies to not just go for the cheapest packaging.

Given the choice between plastic and glass, I would go for glass though I do seem to remember there was an issue with some of the sealing processes used for food stuffs packaged in jars where toxic chemicals were found to have seeped into the food due to these particular processes.

NomenOmen Tue 13-May-14 13:26:48

~ Do you worry or are you concerned about the safety of food and drink packaging?

Not all the time, but if I think about it, I do worry about the various health-scare claims I've read (with regard to plastic, etc., packaging).

In what ways do you worry/ are you concerned?

Simply that there may be health-risks to food/drink stored in plastic.

Do you understand the issues around this topic? What don't you understand?

I can't claim to understand this topic fully, that is, what the science behind it might be. However, I am also aware that certain (anti-scientific) industries can over-exaggerate the 'risks' of certain practices, so I try not to worry unduly. But I think there is a real issue here (as evidenced by practice in other countries).

~ Are you aware of the safer options? If so, what do you consider them to be?

Obviously I think glass is a safer option.

~ Do you consider glass packaging safer than plastic, and would it be your preference?

I think I would be inclined to think so, although, as I've said above, without knowing much about it scientifically, I can't say this is anything more than a suspicion or prejudice! I do prefer things in glass, for a number of reasons:

a) more recyclable (I don't have to spend any time worrying whether it goes in the blue bin or not!) and possibly marginally less wasteful of a finite resource (i.e. fossil fuels);

b) aesthetically, sensually: I prefer the look and feel of things in glass. It's just more attractive. I think that - given a choice - I would always pick the foodstuff in glass over that in plastic (if it were the same product).

I don't worry particularly about breakage or weight, but then I tend to do the bulk of my shopping in the supermarket, to which I drive in my car, so these things don't have to be a consideration. I would imagine that if you have to do your shopping on foot, the additional weight of a lot of glass bottles, etc., would be off-putting.

clairedunphy Tue 13-May-14 13:35:49

Yes I do have concerns about plastics, but as others have said there aren't always alternatives. I'm also not nearly well informed enough about health risks etc, there isn't enough public information about the leaching of chemicals into food and risks attached to reusing or microwaving plastics.

ContinentalKat Tue 13-May-14 13:50:31

~ Do you worry or are you concerned about the safety of food and drink packaging? In what ways do you worry/ are you concerned? Do you understand the issues around this topic? What don't you understand?

I do and I am concerned.

~ Are you aware of the safer options? If so, what do you consider them to be?

Glass is a great alternative. Not for everything, but for drinks especially.

~ Do you consider glass packaging safer than plastic, and would it be your preference?

I do, and it would be a preference for me. I do see a safety issue for children, though, and currently use Sigg bottles for them as they don't break.

I would love to buy all of our drinks in glass bottles, with a European style deposit and return to be refilled/recycled system.

Letitsnow9 Tue 13-May-14 14:02:31

I don't worry about it and recycle all plastic that can be. I think things look posher in glass bottles but like the saftey of plastic not breaking when dropped and being able to squeeze things like tomato ketchup

OrdinaryGirl Tue 13-May-14 14:05:48

I always use glass over plastic for cooking, heating and storing unless it's completely impractical. Not only do BPA and other chemicals worry me, but food definitely tastes better in glass. And it's so much prettier!

sharond101 Tue 13-May-14 14:12:14

Ism pretty laid back with this subject. See safety issues with all being glass as DS likes to throw everything.

CMOTDibbler Tue 13-May-14 14:18:27

I'd like to see more things, especially liquids, sold in glass as its so easily reused and recycled.
There are plus points to plastic, such as dropability, and the airtight seal - I found milk in glass bottles goes off much quicker than in plastic cartons

Hermancakedestroyer Tue 13-May-14 14:21:36

~ Do you worry or are you concerned about the safety of food and drink packaging? In what ways do you worry/ are you concerned? Do you understand the issues around this topic? What don't you understand?

I worry about the effect of chemicals seeping into food through packaging. I believe we live in a throw away culture where the cheapest, nastiest packaging is used regardless of it's affect on health.

~ Are you aware of the safer options? If so, what do you consider them to be?

Having read the article, I believe glass could be the way forward. It does not contain harmful chemicals and so wouldnot pose a threat to health.

~ Do you consider glass packaging safer than plastic, and would it be your preference?yes, for the reasons above. If we can do anything to improve the quality of packaging then it can only be a good thing.

Bingbongbinglybunglyboo Tue 13-May-14 14:28:27

I don't worry about food packaging, and think glass would be more dangerous as I am more likely to drop it and have broken glass in my house!

B3nnyB0y Tue 13-May-14 14:34:53

Yes I am concerned about food packaging my DS has Eczema and we believe chemicals introduced are the cause.

I would like to see more glass used but am concerned now he is getting taller and stronger about smashing the container.

As BeCool said though with jars etc you still have an issue with the lids to be addressed.

LadySybilLikesCake Tue 13-May-14 14:39:50

I worry about plastics. I wonder what chemicals are in them and whether they can leach into the food inside, especially with things that are designed to be heated.

I think glass/natural packaging like cardboard or paper is better and I try to cook from scratch where I can, so using things which don't require a lot of packaging.

I do prefer glass but it's heavy to carry. Easy to recycle though smile

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