- With Mayo Clinic nutritionist
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.read biographyclose window
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
As a specialty editor for the nutrition and healthy eating guide, Katherine Zeratsky helps you sort through the facts and figures, the fads and the hype to learn more about nutrition and diet.
A Marinette, Wis., native, Katherine is certified in dietetics by the state of Minnesota and the American Dietetic Association. She has been with Mayo Clinic since 1999.
She is active in nutrition-related curriculum and course development in wellness nutrition at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and nutrition education related to weight management and practical applications of nutrition-related lifestyle changes.
Other areas of interest include food and nutrition for all life stages, active lifestyles and the culinary arts.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, served a dietetic internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and worked as a registered dietitian and health risk counselor at ThedaCare of Appleton, Wis., before joining the Mayo Clinic staff.
Nutrition basics (31)
- Phenylalanine in diet soda: Is it harmful?
- Diet soda: Is it bad for you?
- Stevia: Can it help with weight control?
- see all in Nutrition basics
Healthy diets (10)
- Canola oil: Does it contain toxins?
- Butter vs. margarine: Which is better for my heart?
- Detox diets: Do they work?
- see all in Healthy diets
Healthy cooking (7)
- When the heat is on, which oil should you use?
- Moldy cheese: Is it OK to eat?
- Food poisoning: How long can you safely keep leftovers?
- see all in Healthy cooking
Healthy menus and shopping strategies (8)
- Calories in sushi: What are the low-cal options?
- White whole-wheat bread: Is it nutritious?
- Sodium nitrate in meat: Heart disease risk factor?
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Nutritional supplements (18)
- What is wheatgrass — And why is it in my drink?
- Do the benefits of vitamin C include improved mood?
- Prenatal vitamins: OK for women who aren't pregnant?
- see all in Nutritional supplements
What is BPA? Should I be worried about it?
What is BPA, and what are the concerns about BPA?
from Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
BPA stands for bisphenol A. BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s.
In particular, BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are often used in containers that store food and beverages, such as water bottles, and baby bottles and cups. They may also be used in toys and other consumer goods. Epoxy resins can be used to coat the inside of metal products, such as food cans, baby formula cans, bottle tops and water supply lines. Some dental sealants and composites also may contain BPA. And certain thermal paper products, such as cash register receipts, may contain BPA.
Some research has shown that BPA can seep into food or beverages from containers that are made with BPA or into your body when you handle products made with BPA. BPA remains controversial, and research studies are continuing. The American Chemistry Council, an association that represents plastics manufacturers, contends that BPA poses no risk to human health.
But the National Toxicology Program at the Department of Health and Human Services says it has "some concern" about the possible health effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. This level of concern is midway on its five-level scale, which ranges from serious to negligible. The Food and Drug Administration now shares this level of concern and is taking steps to reduce human exposure to BPA in the food supply by finding alternatives to BPA in food containers.
In the meantime, if you're concerned about BPA, you can take steps to minimize your exposure by:
- Seeking out BPA-free products. This may not always be easy to do, of course. Some manufacturers label their products as BPA-free. If a product isn't labeled, keep in mind that most aluminum cans or bottles have linings that contain BPA, while steel bottles or cans don't. Polycarbonate plastic is generally hard, clear, lightweight plastic. It often has the No. 7 recycling symbol on the bottom.
- Microwave cautiously. The National Toxicology Program advises against microwaving polycarbonate plastics, although the American Chemistry Council says this is safe. The plastics can break down over time, possibly causing BPA to leach into food.
- Wash safely. The National Toxicology Program advises against washing polycarbonate plastics in the dishwasher using harsh detergents, although the American Chemistry Council says this is safe.
- Use alternatives. Use glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers for hot foods and liquids instead of plastic containers.
- Cut back on cans. Reduce your use of canned foods since many cans are lined with BPA-containing resin.
Vegetable juice: As good as whole vegetables?
- Bisphenol A (BPA). National Toxicology Program. http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/docs/bpa-factsheet.pdf. Accessed Nov. 2, 2010.
- Bisphenol A (BPA): Update on bisphenol A (BPA) for use in food: January 2010. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/newsevents/publichealthfocus/ucm064437.htm. Accessed Nov. 4, 2010.
- FAQs: The safety of baby bottles, Nalgene sports bottles and food containers made with polycarbonate plastic. American Chemistry Council. http://www.plasticsinfo.org/s_plasticsinfo/sec_level2_faq.asp?CID=704&DID=2838. Accessed Nov. 4, 2011.