Sunday, May 18, 2008

Stonyfield Yogurts In #6 Plastic?!

Many of you have commented on the Stonyfield Yogurt giveaway post that you agree with me about the #6 plastic used to package the little individual YoMomma and YoBaby yogurts: it's bad news. I'm going to repost the info I received (from a Stonyfield PR person) on the #6 polystyrene used in the containers for the smaller YoBaby products here just in case some readers missed the discussion. The lowdown is that #6 may leach styrene and you're going to want to avoid it:

"First, none of our packaging contains BPA, the chemical currently in the news and which is used to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins.

As for our use of polystyrene #6, we hope you'll be reassured to learn that #6 containers are considered safe for food use by the both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Union (EU). The FDA requires the styrene content of the packaging be less than 5,000 parts per million (ppm). The styrene content in Stonyfield Farm's polystyrene packaging does not exceed 400 ppm.

Because the use of any plastic can have an adverse effect on the environment, we continuously search for packaging materials with lower environmental impacts. For now, we believe the best option for our small cups is polystyrene since it allows us to reduce the overall amount of packaging material we use - less packaging means less consumption of resources, less pollution and less solid waste."
I'm (re)posting this here in case someone read only the original post, not subsequent updates.

The mention of BPA is puzzling, since it's not at issue here. But most health info I've seen (Green Guide, Breast Cancer Fund) says to avoid #6 plastic -- even if it's safe to eat out of (which is debatable - see below), it's not recyclable and I'll bet the manufacturing process is no great shakes. I've posted about plastic health concerns before if you want more info about BPA and general guides to safer plastic. Here's the Green Guide info on #6:
"Extruded polystyrene (#6 PS; commonly known as Styrofoam) is used in take-out containers and cups, and non-extruded PS is used in clear disposable takeout containers, disposable plastic cutlery and cups. Both forms of PS can leach styrene into food; styrene is considered a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It may also disrupt hormones or affect reproduction."

Here's the Breast Cancer Fund on #6: "PLASTIC #6: Polystyrene (PS)
• Common uses: packaging pellets or Styrofoam peanuts, cups, plastic tableware, meat trays, to-go clam shell containers, egg cartons, shipping blocks
• Many shipping/packaging stores will accept polystyrene peanuts and other packaging materials for reuse. Cups, meat trays and other containers used for food are rarely accepted for recycling. Look for alternatives whenever possible."
Guess we all need to get on that making-our-own-yogurt kick. I already called my dad and got his recipe for making my own in the closet (I will post an update to let you know how it goes!). At the very least, we should get yogurt in the big tubs (they're in #5, which is a supposedly safer plastic).

Another takeaway? Most eco-swag is, in fact, junk. And there may be no such thing as a (safe) free lunch.

Yours in toxin fatigue,

*Plastic fruit photo courtesy of Morgan Noguellou at sxc.


Going Crunchy said...

Green Bean has posted about making her own yogurt. I think I might give it a try.

We did give up yogurt tubes as they can't be recycled, but still do regular yogurt. I'd like to get away from that!

MamaBird said...

I'll have to check out Green Bean's recipe, thanks Going Crunchy. My dad says it's pretty easy to make yogurt. And I too miss the yogurt tubes. I'm thinking of making frozen yogurt pops but have to make sure the plastic in the ikea molds we have is safe (!!).

Green Me said...

I totally agree with your take on this issue. I am surprised at Stony Field for still using #6. Their explanation on the health issue is perhaps plausible, but a plastic that can't be recycled is not cool.

On a different note I left a glass of milk out over two nights (I am ashamed to admit)last week and it looked just like plain yogurt when I dumped it...makes me think that making yogurt might be pretty easy after all!

Anonymous said...

I can never seem to remember which number plastics are "good".

A catchy rhyme in the same vein as "30 days have September...” would help. Ideas?

MamaBird said...

Green Me, we are masters of the overnight milk sludge recipe; hope it bodes well for yogurt making.

Anon - I am still smiling. Will work on a jingle for good plastics!

Nicole said...

Thanks for your info-

You always give me thoughts that are not usually on my radar-

thanks for looking out for all the kids!

Susannah said...

I will join you in the yogurt business -- please do post about your lessons learned!

Mommy T said...

I think I recall that 1, 2, 4, and 5 are ok, 3 & 6 are no-nos, but 7 is tricky because it just means "other" (often means BPA, but could alternately be a mix of multiple plastics, or be one of the new eco-friendly cellulose plastics. It's best to aviod 7 unless you know for sure.) Here's a half-arsed attempt at a rhyming memory device.

1, 2, 4, 5 - fun you pour: thrive
3, 6 - be sick

7 - iffy (only rhyme I can think of is heaven which is NOT a good one)