The ABCs of BPA

Do you find yourself slowly backing away from your drip coffee maker or espresso machine because of all the hullabaloo about BPA (Biosphenol A) in plastics? As you have no doubt heard by now, there have been a wide range of reports regarding BPA — an organic compound found in polycarbonate plastics — examining how safe it is to have in containers from which we eat, drink, etc.

A chemical that’s been historically used to make a variety of items (from children’s toys to food containers to water bottles to coffee makers), researchers have recently found that BPA emits toxins over time — especially when it’s heated. The long term affects of such leaching can cause health problems like cancer, reproductive abnormalities and neurological problems, just to name a (very nasty) few.

But don’t fret! Many coffee equipment manufacturers, such as Technivorm, AeroPress and Hourglass, have made a point to notify their customers or state on their products that they are BPA-free or that they’ve decided to switch to a safer alternative. As for Rancilio, Rocket, Delonghi, Saeco and Jura, we’ve searched high and low for some BPA-free facts, but have only received a verbal guarantee that they are BPA-free and FDA approved.

HereĀ  are a few tips on how you can make sure your java gear is safe and free of any dangerous toxins you don’t want floating around in your cup o’ joe:

  • Hard, Clear & Unbreakable: Plastics that are hard and clear are usually made from polycarbonate. Unless the manufacturer states that it is BPA-free, it’s the BPA chemical additive that makes plastics clear instead of cloudy or opaque. Check on the manufacturing packaging for an explicit statement, otherwise skip it.
  • Too Hot to Handle: Heat accelerates the possibility of BPA leaching into beverages stored in plastics. Make sure your to go cups are stainless steel where your coffee touches it.
  • Unlucky #7: Take a look at your plastics and find the triangle stamp on or near the bottom of your product. Products consisting of polycarbonate should have the number 7 or sometimes the letters PC.

However, not all plastics with the number 7 mean they contain BPA. The number 7 can also mean that that certain plastic is in the ‘other’ category. These plastics are usually soft and pliable, and are not made with BPA. Because some of their products contain components with the number 7 on them, Technivorm has tried to clarify this, also specifically listing which materials are utilized in those products:

Although judged safe by most testing agencies and reports, a few misleading negative studies have identified plastics marked with recycling no. 7 as unsafe. Some — but not all — plastics with the recycling no. 7 are polycarbonate. — Technivorm

While a few of their components are a mixture of polycarbonate, they do meet FDA requirements. Technivorm hopes to get closer to being a totally BPA-free manufacturer by getting rid of the use of any polycarbonate in their current and future products.

But if you’re still worried about BPA in your coffee maker, just know that most coffee maker brew baskets are made of ABS plastic and polypropylene for their water tanks — both of which are BPA-free plastics.

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