Look around your kitchen; if you are like most of us, you probably have a plastic dependency. They hide in refrigerators, cabinets, pantry’s, from butter in tubs to salad dressings to food storage; yikes, it’s everywhere. But before we pitch all of our plastics, know which ones can be harmful to your family.

To determine which type of plastics you have in your home, turn over and look for the recycling code on the bottom. The plastics with the most significant potential for adverse health effects are #3 polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and #7 polycarbonate (PC) or “other.” This can often be found in deli wrap plastics and oil bottles. Traces of these chemicals are known to leach into foods. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), in animal studies, phthalates interfere with the production of male reproductive hormones, lower testosterone levels and decrease sperm counts. Exposure during fetal development can cause the malformation of the male reproductive tract and cancer.  Ask your grocery store butcher to cut meat and cheese and wrap it in the paper to avoid PVC. When choosing cheeses go for the zip closure style rather than the shrink wrap style.

Safer plastics are #2 high-density polyethylene (HDPE), the plastic for opaque milk and cereal box liners.  #4 low-density polyethylene (LDPE), the plastic in plastic wrap, and #5 polypropylene (PP), the plastic in yogurt containers and margarine tubs.

10 Top Tips for Plastic Use

1. Never heat food in plastic containers.

2. Always avoid hazardous plastics with codes #3 and #7.

3. Do not reuse single-use plastic containers such as water bottles.

4. Check baby bottles and sippy cups for #7 plastics.

5. Reduce your consumption of BPA-lined canned food and beverages. Instead, buy food in glass jars.

6. Do not serve or store hot fatty oil food in plastic containers.

7. Choose reusable glass containers.

8. Avoid foods sold in plastic, such as deli meats and cheeses. Or transfer them immediately to a glass container when home.

9. Retire old containers. If you have any older plastic storage items over two years old, throw them away.

10. If you are pregnant or nursing, remember BPA is transferred from your blood to your baby’s.