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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)

WowOoo Tue 13-May-14 14:41:55

The fact that many plastics are not recycled and the environmental cost of their production worries me the most.

I've always been a great lover of glass. But, I am well aware of it's limitations. It's weight can make it heavy; it's so easy to break and shatter (plus the danger of cutting oneself/having tyres damaged by glass in the road etc) and the fact that so many lazy people don't bother to recycle it.

Some glass things I have were built to last though. I have a Pyrex jug that I've dropped and it still did not break. I wonder if it's mixed with a plastic. I love it - easy to clean and see through. My favourite glass is an arcoroc French one that has far outlasted any plastic cups the kids have used.

I love the money back thing that a poster said they still do in Germany for glass. That would encourage more people to recycle.

LadySybilLikesCake Tue 13-May-14 14:44:38

IIRC the 'pop man' used to give my parents a tiny refund for the glass bottles, WowOoo. Pyrex is fab, and it doesn't melt if I accidentally put it too close to the cooker blush

CheeryName Tue 13-May-14 14:44:46

I never give contamination from plastic into food a second's thought. I do hate excess packaging though and prefer glass, except for bottles of squash, because the children would probably break them!

I like to think the wine I drink so conscientiously is helping the glass bottle cause wine

CheeseEMouse Tue 13-May-14 14:51:42

Like many others I had never considered this a risk either. I suppose what I would like to understand is how much of a risk there actually is - as nothing in life is risk free and there are carcinogens in lots of things. Probably living on a busy road is doing my lungs no good...

I agree that glass is easily recycled - but plastic is becoming easier too and I am more concerned about the environmental impact. I do my best never to take plastic bags, for example. Similarly I try and avoid pre packed fruit and veg if I can help it.

spottydolphin Tue 13-May-14 15:03:20

~ 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?

yes, I am and it does affect what I buy in some instances.

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

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

yes, I do and it would certainly be preferable esp if you could reuse rather than recycle!

Kairos Tue 13-May-14 15:07:27

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

I am no fan of plastic packaging, but I also understand that plastic is flexible (unlike glass) and water-tight (unlike cardboard/paper). That's why it's so prevalent. I do not like packaging waste, but I also do not like food waste: plastic packaging protects food very well. If I drop a glass jar, it will probably smash, resulting in unusable food and dangerous shards of glass.

In what ways do you worry/ are you concerned?

We know toxins transfer from plastic packaging onto the food it contains.

Do you understand the issues around this topic?

Yes, I think I do.

~ Are you aware of the safer options? If so, what do you consider them to be? There are 3 types of safety here: a) food protection b) protection from toxins c) packaging that can be safely handled. Glass falls foul of the latter condition.

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

I prefer how it looks and I prefer not to use plastic, but I am generally very nervous if my children handle glass.

starfishmummy Tue 13-May-14 15:21:06

I am not overly concerned about plastic being a health risk but have a preference for glass. I think its just what I am used to - I'm a "fifty something" and remember a time when glass was the norm - even fir things like shampoo.
Mostly if there were two similar items and one was in glass and one in plastic, I would go for glass. I know that it can all be recycled - rather than the "can I can't I" associated with the different plastics

sleepyhead Tue 13-May-14 15:30:49

Until fairly recently we used to build up a stash of glass Irn Bru bottles and then take them back to the shop for the deposit (which we spent on chocolate). Haven't bought fizzy juice for a while now though.

I would like glass to be more easily recyclable - we don't have a bottle bank particularly near by, and the council collections are plastic & cardboard only (flat, so communal bins).

I don't particularly worry about plastic packaging as a health risk, but I do hate that it builds up in landfill - I'm not convinced that our council pays more than lip service to recycling, and our recycling bins are routinely contaminated by lazy arseholes shoving anything and everything in.

If I have the option, I'll go for glass over plastic all else being equal, but I do look carefully at price per 100g/ml and would probably not pay much of a premium for glass.

MinesAPintOfTea Tue 13-May-14 15:31:20

I miss milk in glass bottles, but am on a budget and am not sufficiently convinced of the risks to spend more to get it that way.

I also wonder who is funding Friends of Glass and what they stand to gain?

NettleTea Tue 13-May-14 15:52:59

i prefer glass, and often reuse the bottles myself for making cordials and preserves/oils/herbal medicines.
Not keen on plastic full stop really

MrsLoada Tue 13-May-14 16:10:11

I would love to see more things packed in glass as a child we got lemonade in glass bottles and when we returned them to the shop we some money off the next bottle ( not much 2-5p) but these bottles we reused over and over again. Not like the glass now, I just pop it in the recycling which is good but surely energy is used to break it up and make into a new bottle/ jar were as if it could go back and be washed and reused for the same thing surely that would be better.
I do worry about bpa can since reading about it and losing my aunt to breast cancer, I'm trying to buy in glass instead of plastic where I can but it's so hard to find many things in glass jars and bottles, plus schools always say now glass bottles in packed lunches.

I never even thought about this from a safety point of view! Something else to worry about now......I appreciate that glass is easier to recycle but I don't drive so it's heavy to carry and I do worry about it breaking. But really, this isn't even on my radar.

StillNoFuckingEyeDeer Tue 13-May-14 18:44:42

~ 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 can't say I've ever given much thought to the safety of food & drink packaging. I really don't have much idea about the issues at all and the thread intro is probay the most information I've ever got.
~ Are you aware of the safer options? If so, what do you consider them to be?
I've never really thought about it. Non-plastic packaging such as glass would make sense.
~ Do you consider glass packaging safer than plastic, and would it be your preference?
I suppose so. In theory glass is preferable, but in practice it's often more expensive, heavier to carry home and more difficult to recycle (not all councils will collect glass) than plastic.
I'm going to put a bit more thought into choosing glass packaging in future.

ScrambledEggAndToast Tue 13-May-14 18:54:38

I have had my concerns for years re.plastic. When DS was younger and I was weaning him, I bought loads of glass jars and used them to fill the food mush with. I know you can reuse plastic pots but the glass ones lasted so much longer because they didn't stain and just seemed to be so clean out of the dishwasher. There was no funny smell which you sometimes get with plastic pots when you have been using them for a while. I would definitely advocate the use of glass everytime. From an aesthetic point of view, it just looks so much nicer too grin

mammamic Tue 13-May-14 19:01:02

concern about safety of food /drink packaging?
YES

In what ways do you worry/ are you concerned?
I do worry a lot about this issue. Whenever possible, I purchase BPA free packaging. I also have spoken with supermarkets (eg Waitrose, Tesco etc) about safe packaging. Waitrose are commmitted to have all their 'own brand' goods in BPA free packaging but they cannot control other suppliers. Tesco didn't seem to care, to be honest.

For those goods which don't go off too quickly by being opened, I usually put them in my own containers - BPA free and glass.

Do you understand the issues around this topic?
From a consumer perspective, I believe I do (but of course, you don't know what you don't know!)

What don't you understand?
Why poisonous, carcinogenic, unsafe materials are allowed in any packaging - especially food?
Why is it always money above safety?

Are you aware of the safer options?
Yes

If so, what do you consider them to be?
BPA free, glass, paper based (eg cardboard)

Do you consider glass packaging safer than plastic, and would it be your preference?
Absolutely yes to both

I also think that if we had more glass, there would be more recycling - re-use in the home rather than throwing away.
Many plastics do not recycle well and have 'long lives' - and what do we do - dig big holes in our countryside or, worse still, illegally throw in our seas.

We now have to worry about the Great Pacific garbage patch as well!

Theincidental Tue 13-May-14 19:06:49

I worry about plastics in safety and environmental terms. Local authorities are so picky about what plastic they will and won't recycle and our oceans are full of plastic bags and packets. It's quite disturbing.

I don't worry about glass. I really like he new douwe egberts ad where they show the lifespan of their packaging - pots for pens, food storage etc. I also (like most mners) have a cupboard of gu pots!

Jam jars still rock for reusing for jam or crafts, or storage.

I hadn't really considered any of this until I read this thread, but am now really interested!

addictedtosugar Tue 13-May-14 20:38:22

While I'm concerned about plasticers leaching out of plastics, and would prefer glass, this would be for adult use product.
Glass drinks bottles in places like parks are a recipe for disaster (as proven by the broken beer bottles in the teenage hangouts round the corner from the supermarket).
Weight for e.g. drinks for a picnic would also be a consideration.

Would there be a way to commercially reuse glass bottles, rather than crush and reform at every recycling (like I assume milk bottle and the milk man used to do!)?

Shallishanti Tue 13-May-14 20:49:10

I'm not too concerned about the health implications of plastic. Am more interested in environmental issues which are complex- glass packaging is much heavier so costs more (£ and CO2.) to transport. Recycling glass - better than it going to landfill but MUCH better would be to reuse the container (as in milk bottles)- I think if there was some standardisation of shapes of jars and bottles this would be workable. Some packaging can be reused in the home (plastic or glass) but really, will only be a small % of what is used- I make a fair amount of jam but still have surplus jars, and how many yoghurt pot shakers can one family use?
Plastic uses petrochemicals which are a finite resource and so should be recycled- but LA's often don't do this well and we all end up wondering if we can or can't put margarine tubs in the recycling.
so- to conclude- I'd be happy to see less plastic used, but can see environmental as well as practical problems replacing it with plastic.

xlatia Tue 13-May-14 20:58:30

Oooh, exciting! We do worry about plastics that come into contact with food and are in the process of phasing out all plastic kitchen gear. We also had glass feeding bottles when the DC were little.

Someone summed up the whole problem around plastic containers quite neatly, saying something along the lines of "glass has been used for food storage for centuries, but plastic's only been around for the last 50 years and in that period cancer rates happened to explode as well" a bit simplistic probably but you get the point.

Apparently the biggest issue is when the plastic gets hot, it starts to emit dangerous chemicals, so toaster, kettle and spatulas had to go first. We now use glass/steel applicances (stylish!) and wooden utensils. DP takes lunch into work to reheat in the microwave and over the past couple of months we've collected quite a selection of glass jars, just empty food containers from jams, gherkins, cabbage... Breakage is a problem, particularly annoying when the jar is still full of food because then it's wasted completely. I'm not aware of a more sturdy alternative, so for the time being he just has to be careful if he doesn't want to go hungry. wink

I would like to see more recyclable packaging available. I'm German, so used to recycling everything/taking bottles back to the shop for a refund and would be more than happy to continue doing so here!

JamJimJam Tue 13-May-14 21:02:03

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

I dislike plastic packaging as a rule, but I understand its suitability for many foods/drinks.

In what ways do you worry/ are you concerned?

I am concerned regarding the transfer of harmful toxins from the packaging into food.

Do you understand the issues around this topic?

From the perspective of a consumer, as opposed to a scientist, yes.

Are you aware of the safer options?

Yes

If so, what do you consider them to be?

Glass, paper based packaging.

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

Yes, definitely. Eg we always buy fizzy water in glass bottles.

KateOxford Tue 13-May-14 21:11:31

I am always careful to buy BPA free packaging for storing food however dont give much thought to how food I purchase is stored since I assume it is stored in the safest way. I am always careful not to keep liquids in plastic which could become warm and then cool again such as in a car as I understand this can cause chemicals to be released into the liquid.
I store liquid in insulated containers which keep the liquid at one temperature.
Plastic would be my preferred storage vessel in case of glass breaking and hurting my children.

Pinter Tue 13-May-14 21:13:43

I would much prefer to buy things in glass than plastic

When I take food out of the house I use bpa free plastic. Easier for 11 month old DC & I don't worry about things getting dropped & broken

I have a glass jar in the fridge that is like a salad dressing jar, so left over flavoured oil (from anchovies or sardines) & vinegar (from artichokes or chillies) goes in

It would be great if you could rinse & return pop bottles like in days of old!

Juices taste better out of glass I think too smile

Teaat3Ten Tue 13-May-14 21:18:49

Yes I do have some concerns about the use of plastic for food and drink packaging and I try where possible to buy products packaged in other ways.
The transfer of toxins and chemicals is a concern particularly when heat is involved. I had been made aware of this by the Breast Cancer UK campaign.
Safer options are glass and paper, not always practical I know.
I will always try to buy glass over plastic containers, not always easy.I have recycled all my glass containers for years and years. My local authority at the moment doesn't recycle plastics, another strong reason for me choosing glass.If refunds were given on glass bottles/jars I am sure consumers would soon make the switch to safer packaging!

AndHarry Tue 13-May-14 21:24:54

~ 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 have done a bit of reading on the subject. Generally I'm not particularly worried but I do avoid cooking in plastic containers.

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

I suppose safer options in terms of chemical transfer are glass and wooden boxes.

~ Do you consider glass packaging safer than plastic, and would it be your preference?
My concerns about plastic packaging are far outweighed by knowing that containers won't break into tiny sharp pieces that I'll have to spend hours cleaning up (and then still stand on a splinter) though, especially with young children who like to empty our food cupboards as a game! I'd like to have a choice but generally I'm not too bothered either way.

GetKnitted Tue 13-May-14 21:57:37

I would say that I am slightly worried about packaging safety, particularly since there are mixed messages about the safety and prevalence of BPA in plastic packaging. I do think that glass is safer from a chemical perspective, though of course a tetrapac can't really smash like glass.

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