When I started all this research business last fall I remember sitting in my mother in-laws house watching my sister in-law feed my little 6 month old niece. What should have been a peaceful act of watching my adorable niece eat Gerber pears suddenly turned to an internal question seminar when I glanced at the bottom of the Gerber plastic container. There was that #7 recycling symbol that I had been reading so much about lately. With all this BPA information fresh in my mind I immediately started to think about all the times I fed my son Gerber baby food from those handy 2 pack containers.
Later I was asked to participate on a phone call with EWG’s Sonya Lunder (read about that here) about their latest report on Bisphenol-A in baby formula. Since they were so knowledgeable on the subject I took the opportunity to ask has about baby food containers, specifically Gerber. She said she had talked with Gerber about that very thing.
The #7 recycling symbol, from what I’ve read many times over, is a “catch all” number. When a plastic is labelled with this number it typically means there are more than one type of plastic used. Sometimes there is BPA in it. Sometimes there isn’t. Researchers suggest avoiding #7 since there is no way to know if there is BPA in it or not unless you speak directly to the company.
In the case of Gerber, the plastic used for the baby food containers is made with a combination of #1 and #2 plastics. (see correction below) This being a combination of plastic lands the completed product in the #7 territory. In this case, there is no Bisphenol-A in the Gerber plastic baby food containers. Sonya Lunder confirmed that for me when we spoke, as well as a reader who wrote to me recently to say that she called Gerber directly. They assured her that both the baby food packs and their breastmilk storage bags (both labelled #7) are in fact BPA Free. (Thanks Kelly!)
It’s still safe to say that avoiding #7 (along with #3 and #6) plastics is a good rule of thumb since we don’t always know what materials are in #7 plastics. But if you have a product you use frequently and want to check it out, call the company and ask.
Correction Update: May 4, 2008 – After getting some conflicting information regarding the plastic used in these container’s I wanted to clarify what I’ve learned. Gerber baby food plastic containers are made with #1 (Polyethylene or PET) and #6 (Polystyrene or PS) layered plastic, according to Gerber reps. Not the #1 and #2 combination I was told initially, They told us that the inner layer is Polyethylene and the outer layer is the Polystyrene. Gerber assured us that no food comes in contact with Polystyrene in the packaging and they said they are 100% BPA Free containers. This information has been confirmed by a number of us here at Safe Mama. We called and harassed Gerber numerous time to ensure that the information we were given was the same each time we called. If you have any reservations about their packaging, we encourage you to call them yourself. They have a very good hot line that is open 24/7 on their website.