By Melinda Alcorn, Kentucky Safe Foods Project Coordinator
In September 2012, the Kentucky Environmental Foundation launched the Kentucky Safe Foods Project at the Berea Farmers Market Live Large! Live Local! Festival. Since then, we have worked with health professionals, children's groups and local food organizations to reduce the exposure of Kentucky families to the toxic chemical BPA.
Bisphenol-A is a chemical compound that is often used in canned foods and beverages, plastics, thermal receipt paper, toilet paper, children's toys and baby bottles. BPA leaches into our foods from these products; heating food in plastic containers made with the chemical increases the amount that we ingest. Scientific studies have shown that everyone has BPA in their bodies, and that the chemical has been linked to cancer, developmental disabilities, reproductive disorders, obesity, diabetes, and a variety of other illnesses and diseases.
As coordinator of the Kentucky Safe Foods Project and community educator with the Kentucky Environmental Foundation, it is my job to make connections with organizations and individuals in eastern Kentucky and raise awareness about the effects of BPA, particularly involving obesity. Since October 2012, I have made one presentation each month before community groups, health departments and church dinners to educate the public about BPA. After Kentucky House Bill 287--legislation that would have banned the use of BPA in food and beverage containers in the Commonwealth--failed in February, we have redoubled our efforts to start a conversation about the effects of this toxic chemical.
You, too, can help raise awareness about BPA. Join us by talking with your friends and neighbors about this issue. Make informed choices in your home and at the supermarket.
LOOK for the words "BPA Free" on labels of food containers.
SELECT fresh or frozen foods rather than canned. Purchasing locally-grown foods is a great way to support your area farmers and food canneries. Help your local food bank provide fresh foods to families that might not otherwise have access.
AVOID products made from polycarbonate plastic, sometimes labeled "PC" or "7."
RECOMMEND to local food retailers that they ask suppliers for BPA-Free products.
CONTACT Kentucky's state and federal legislators today and tell them that toxic chemicals like BPA have no place in our food or bodies. Demand that they support policies that protect our health.
SIGN a petition supporting the Safe Chemicals Act, which would ban the use of BPA and other toxic chemicals by reforming the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act.
For more information and to see how you can contribute, feel free to contact me at 859.200.0951 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Monica Unseld
In today's world, we spend so much time lobbying and criticizing our politicians for what we would like them to do that we often neglect to praise them for a job well done. I would like to publicly thank Reps. Mary Lou Marzian, Ruth Ann Palumbo, Joni L. Jenkins, Tom Riner and Susan Westrom for cosponsoring H.B. 287 and fighting for the health of Kentucky's families.
Had it been passed, H.B. 287 would have helped to protect Kentuckians from the toxic chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA, which is found in canned foods, beverage containers, and even thermal receipt paper. BPA has been linked to numerous forms of cancer, reproductive issues, obesity, developmental disabilities and heart disease, all of which have impacted the lives of Kentucky families in some way.
H.B. 287 proposed to ban the manufacturing, sale and distribution of any reusable food container made with the toxic chemical bisphenol-A (BPA), including infant food or baby formula storage containers. Instead of BPA, manufacturers would have been required to use a non-toxic alternative.
I hope that this vital piece of legislation will gain more traction next semester and withstand the assault of opponents that are tied to the powerful chemical industry lobby. But in the meantime, I salute Marzian, Palumbo, Jenkins, Riner and Westrom for standing for Kentucky families.