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Are Tetra Paks Nontoxic and Safe?

Written by Maia, President
Written by Maia, President

After my recent blog post about BPA-free cans, and which brands are actually safe (hint: only one brand is!), a lot of you asked about boxed beans, wondering if these are a better bet. We set out to research the materials in these packaging used for boxed beans, and to find out if it’s Good Stuff, or at least Better Stuff for those of us looking to avoid canned products (but who has the time to soak and cook dry beans!).

Aseptic Packaging: Good Stuff?

All of the brands that we researched (Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Pacific Foods, and Imagine) use aseptic packaging, commonly a brand called Tetra Pak, for their boxed items–including beans, soups, and chicken stock, and more.

Tetra Pak Package Layer ConstructionAseptic cartons are shelf-stable and protect the taste of the food inside while being much lighter than cans. These cartons are made with three basic materials:

  1. Paper, to provide strength and stiffness.
  2. Polyethylene, a type of plastic that makes packages liquid-tight and protects against microorganisms.
  3. Aluminum foil, to keep out air and light.

Cream of Mushroom SoupIn Tetra Paks, these materials are alternated to produce a six-layered package, and the only material that touches the food inside the box is the polyethelene. You know I’m not a fan of plastic of any kind, but polyethelene is a “good” plastic–it appears to be non-leaching and nontoxic, and thus is a definite improvement over the BPA and other resins used in canned beans (the exception being canned beans by Eden Organics, as I explained in my other post).

Glass should still be the first choice if you are purchasing packaged products, but boxed beans and soups are a great alternative to their toxic canned counterparts.

Stay sane,

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13 responses to “Are Tetra Paks Nontoxic and Safe?”

  1. Can foods and soup stocks in tetra packs be canned in glass jars to extend their shelf life? And if yes, what is the correct way to do this? Thanks so much for your assistance!

  2. I just printed my comment up above.

  3. Tetra Paks leak at the seams. You can tell when you purchase a product with coloring, like chocolate.

    The seam where the saddle sits on the carton is one seam. I just finished drinking an Apres Chocolate Sea Salt product. And the leak is down the side seam.

    Hope Tetra Pak can figure out what to do. This continues on and on and on…

    Valerian A. Ginter

  4. Dairy queen milk in tetra packs literally tastes like chemicals ! I would not eat or drink anything out of those containers ever again !
    Just saying .

  5. And what about the recycling of Tetra park containers? How are they going to separate the cardboard from the aluminium and the polyethylene. I can guarantee you that most countries do not have the facilities or Will to have these food/drink cartons recycled as it is energy consuming and the majority of countries in the world do not have the facilities to recycle in any case. Time the company which is virtually a monopoly in the drink/food industry, invested to find a green, toxic free and sustainable solution.

  6. Useful post, but….

    Endocrine disruptors in bottled mineral water

    You still are dealing with leaching estrogen.
    http://www.elaharrison.com/blog/item/when-ignorance-was-bliss-a-look-at-tetra-pak

    “Moreover, some brands of mineral water are sold in a packaging called Tetra Pak (Tetra Brick) although only to a minor extent. These paperboard boxes are coated with an inner plastic film and are more commonly used for packing milk and fruit juices….

    The analysis of data according to the packaging material (Fig 3a) demonstrates that the estrogenic contamination of mineral water bottled in plastic (PET and Tetra Pak) is significantly higher compared to that of waterbottled in glass (p<0.001)."

    https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/be0a/cd1a4ac62752acd2edc9c1730ae2ed81bb57.pdf

    1. english please, i don;t understand all your jargin and mumbo jumbo

      1. Ummm, the English was pretty standard. Low IQ?

    2. But that lumps together data from PET bottles with Tetrapak… be interesting to know if they were analysed separately or not.

  7. What about the aluminum? Does it pass to the juices and/or food?
    Thank you

  8. I did see that the Hipp Combiotic Ready to Use formulas come in a tetra pak. Would these be safe to feed to my newborn?

    1. Yes, I feel reassured that tetra paks are safe, at least based on what we currently know about polyethylene.

      1. I am not that sure that tetra packs are safe as you assure. You can go deeply on this troubling and debatable question using the link below. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11356-009-0107-7 and http://www.elaharrison.com/blog/item/when-ignorance-was-bliss-a-look-at-tetra-pak

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