Eat and store
Whether mealtimes are a constant battle with mashed potatoes in the hair and peas on the floor or a delightful moment of exciting food discoveries, the kitchen is an important place for many families. Following are some suggestions and advice on how to avoid hazardous chemicals in the kitchen.
Run the tap until it is sufficiently cold before giving it to children to drink. This reduces the risk of, for example, there being heavy metals from the water pipes in the glass. Water from the cold water tap that is not properly cold and water from the hot water tap must not be drunk or used for cooking.
Aluminium pots and foil
If you cook or store acidic foodstuffs such as sour fruits, vinegar and juice in aluminium containers, the level of aluminium in the food can increase. You should therefore avoid cooking, warming and storing these foodstuffs in pots, 9 trays, bottles and other containers made of aluminium that does not have a protective coating. You should not store acidic foodstuffs in contact with aluminium foil for long periods, and it is preferable for the foil not to be in contact with acidic desserts or similar in the oven.
Some ceramic and enamelled containers may contain heavy metals such as lead and cadmium. This applies primarily to old ceramics, for example, from a flea market and if you have perhaps bought handicrafts from an artist while on a foreign holiday. When you cook or store food in this type of container, there is a risk that heavy metals may come out of the container and end up in the food. Acidic foodstuffs such as sour fruits, vinegar and juice further increase the risk of heavy metals being released. However, newer ceramic vessels such as those that can be bought from normal shops in Sweden and the rest of the EU should be safe. This is because there are EU regulations stating that ceramics intended to come into contact with foodstuffs may not contain heavy metals.
Preserving jars and plastic packaging
Preserving jars and some plastic packaging may contain bisphenol A (BPA). Bisphenol A can also be found in various types of food container, such as individual articles for warming in the microwave, transparent sipping cups and storage vessels and hard water bottles that are used during sports. The quantity of bisphenol A we ingest via our diet is not deemed harmful to our health. As a precaution, this substance is banned in baby bottles and the packaging of food intended for children under the age of three.
Plastic dining sets and food containers
When plastic is scratched or heated, it increases the risk of substances leaking out of the plastic into the food. That’s why you should recycle scratched plastic items. Labelling with the “glass and fork” symbol – or the words “food safe” – is used for plastic products that are safe to use with food. The risk of substances being transferred from the packaging to the foodstuff increases at high temperatures and if the food is high in fat. You should therefore only warm packaging in the microwave if it has a label that indicates this is OK. Recycling symbols, for example a triangle containing a number, indicate the main plastic used in the product. You can find more information about plastic in contact with food on the National Food Agency’s website, http://www.livsmedelsverket.se.
Always use utensils and other kitchen items for their intended purpose. This reduces the risk of children ingesting inappropriate chemicals.
Dishwasher detergent is a chemical product that irritates the skin and eyes and may sometimes also be harmful if swallowed. Be especially careful with single portion capsules as small children can easily put these in their mouth. Dishwasher detergent must be labelled with warning symbols and should always be kept out of the reach of children.
Oven cleaner often contains caustic soda, which can cause serious burns if it is ingested or comes into contact with the skin. If it comes into contact with the eyes, it can in the worst case result in loss of vision. If you have oven cleaner at home, make sure it is stored out of the sight and reach of children. Also be aware of the warning labels and follow the instructions on the packaging when using the product.
If you child has swallowed a chemical product or got it on their skin or in their eyes, call 112 and ask for poison information.
Vinegar in a concentrated solution of 24 % is corrosive, despite often being used domestically. It is a good idea to wear gloves when handling this liquid and be careful not to splash it in your eyes. Dilute solutions, in concentrations up to 12 %, for example in wine vinegar or vinegar essence, are powerful irritants of the skin and eyes.