Tin cans lined with an epoxy resin and plastic wrap can both leach bisphenol A, an endocrine disruptor known to mimic estrogen. Containers using plastics # 3, 6 and 7 in particular, are to be avoided because of their additives and risk to human health (see plastic types below). Some of these additives can leach into the food. Phthalates, which are often added to PVC to make it flexible, are of particular concern because of its disruption to the male reproductive system in developing babies. Use only microwave-safe plastics for heating in the microwave, if using at all.
Plastic wraps originally were made using PVC (polyvinyl chloride) but now, some are made using the safer Low density polyethylene (LDPE). Better wrapping and storage options are aluminum foil, wax paper and glass.
What about that beautiful wine decanter in your china cabinet? Crystalware contains lead compounds which are released into the food, especially when it contains acidic foods like pickles and soft drinks. Ceramics/pottery from certain countries where restrictions are not as high as in North America are at risk of containing lead and cadmium, toxic heavy metals. Choose pottery and enamalware which say “food safe” and are made in a country with strict standards for contact with food and drink
Plastic cutlery and plates as well as styrofoam/polystyrene, a petroleum product, are to be avoided. Instead, use paper or bring your own.
Safer materials for cooking pots and pans are: cast iron, stainless steel, and glass.
More info on safer cookware here.
Plastics: What Do the Numbers Mean? (source Wikipedia.org)
#1-PET (PETE), polyethylene terephthalate: Commonly found on 2-liter soft drink bottles, cooking oil bottles, peanut butter jars.
#2-HDPE, high-density polyethylene: Commonly found on detergent bottles, milk jugs.
#3-PVC, polyvinyl chloride: Commonly found on plastic pipes, outdoor furniture, shrink-wrap, water bottles, salad dressing and liquid detergent containers.
#4-LDPE, low-density polyethylene: Commonly found on dry-cleaning bags, produce bags, trash can liners, food storage containers.
#5-PP, polypropylene: Commonly found on bottle caps, drinking straws, yogurt containers.
#6-PS, polystyrene: Commonly found on “Styrofoam peanuts”, cups, plastic tableware, meat trays, take-away food clamshell containers
#7-OTHER, other: This plastic category, as its name of “other” implies, is any plastic other than the named #1–#6, Commonly found on certain kinds of food containers, Tupperware, and Nalgene bottles.
Again, to lessen risk, AVOID #’s 3,6 and 7 for foods and liquids.