OAKLAND (KRON) — Stanford researchers find school lunches can expose school-aged children to a toxic chemical.
That chemical–BPA–is often found in the containers the food is stored in and can be especially dangerous for children whose bodies are still developing. So, how can parents protect their children?
Canned food contributes to most of the BPA exposure. And a lot of the food that is being served comes from cans.
Many parents are hearing for the first time that school lunches at both public and private middle and elementary schools contain BPA.
According to a recent Stanford University study, the toxic chemical comes from foods that are stored in cans and plastic bottles. Low-income children, who are getting federally-funded meals, are more likely to be directly affected.
"Hearing that makes me think I need to make better choices for him and my daughter," one parent said.
BPA has many negative side effects.
Michael Green from the Center for Environmental Health said it also mimics estrogen, causing developing bodies to react.
"Earlier onset of puberty in girls is related to and other chemicals in the environment," Green said.
There is something parents can do to help protect their children. For one, sending them to school with lunches that have lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
"We pretty much package lunch everyday right now. It's always something. In 20 years, they're gonna find something else that causes cancer, so you just have to be as careful as you can," another parent said.
The effort for healthy eating in school is there, but it's important that the ingredients aren't canned. Parents can talk to their school district about getting more fresh fruits and vegetables in their cafeterias.