Do grocery receipts contain toxic chemicals? Woolworths and Coles respond to allegations

Have you heard of Bisphenol A?

Also known as BPA, it’s a compound used in the containers of some food and beverage products to prevent contamination and extend shelf life, according to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

The US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences says it’s also present in other items like shatter-proof windows, eyewear, and water supply pipes.


Unfortunately, it has long been linked to several health issues, including diabetes, effects on the brain development of fetuses, and cancer.

That said, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say BPA has been a major source of concern, especially when it comes to certain consumer products.

Well, it turns out that the humble grocery receipt could be one of those potentially dangerous items.


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Woolworths and Coles have addressed concerns about BPA being used in their receipts. Stock Image Credit: Pexels/Carolina Grabowska


Concerns about whether Australia's two biggest supermarket chains — Woolworths and Coles — were using BPA in their receipts were recently cleared up after both chains assured their customers that the paper used for their receipts is BPA-free.

In a statement, Woolworths said they haven’t been using the chemical for seven years already.

‘Our printed receipt paper is BPA free, and we're continuing to review emerging phenol-free alternatives,’ they said.

Woolworths also shared that many Aussies have apparently been opting to use their paperless receipt option which they rolled out in July of 2022.


‘Every day, more than 7 million transactions across our stores use the eReceipt option, with individual customers saving an average of 13 metres of paper every year.’

Coles also confirmed their receipts were free of BPA, while Kmart has yet to comment on the matter.

Woolworths and Coles however were not clear as to what alternatives they were using in their receipts, which could potentially include BPA-related chemicals like Bisphenol S (BPS), which some studies have found to be ‘comparable to or worse’ than BPA.

Despite such findings, the government as of yet sees no need for drastic action on BPA products.


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BPA is also used in food and beverage containers. Stock Image Credit: Pexels/Tim Samuel


For example, FSANZ says on its website that ‘the overwhelming weight of scientific opinion is that there is no health or safety issue at the levels people are exposed to’.

In 2010, major Australian retailers voluntarily phased out baby bottles made using BPA polycarbonate plastic, but the FSANZ notes that this development was more about shifting consumer trends rather than a move done over product safety concerns.

Still, erring on the side of caution is a good idea.

If ever you’re concerned about BPA and similar substances, it is highly recommended that you keep them away from kids, and wash your hands after touching them (absolutely no lotions, hand sanitisers, or anything wet or greasy as it can lead to more absorbed chemicals), store them separately in an envelope, and put them in the general waste bin to avoid contaminating recyclable items.

Key Takeaways

  • Woolworths has stopped using Bisphenol A (BPA) in their receipts for the past seven years and offers an ever-growing number of customers the option of eReceipts via their Everyday Rewards program.
  • Coles also confirmed that their receipts are BPA-free as well.
  • The two supermarkets however have not specified what alternatives they're using in their receipts.
  • BPA and Bisphenol S (BPS), a known BPA alternative, can be absorbed through the skin and have been linked by some studies to an increased risk of illness, including cancer.
  • Customers are encouraged to use eReceipts to minimise contact with these harmful chemicals, store paper receipts separately in an envelope, and keep them away from children. They should also wash their hands after handling receipts, avoid lotions and hand sanitisers, and throw receipts into general waste bins so as not to contaminate recyclables.
Speaking of supermarket chains and recyclable items, remember the time Woolies was called out for their ‘excessive’ use of plastic?

You could also check out how you can upcycle your (preferably BPA-free) plastic bottles into home decor as one Brisbane woman did!

While Woolworths and Coles have replied, are you concerned other retailers may be using BPA in their receipts? Do you think this makes a better case for supporting paperless receipts in supermarkets?

Tell us your thoughts below!


Source: YouTube/SciShow
 
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Maybe if you slept naked on them every night you might get a rash. This is just another scare tactic to get everyone to go digital (read that as you do their job without being paid) so they make more money.
 
I reckon that you'd have to wrap yourself in the receipts daily for years before you got any appreciable bad effects. Either that or these receipts should come with a Government warning if handling them for probably less than two or three minutes once a week is harmful. I hope these shops have good insurance for when all the checkout chicks start to get ill. ;)
 
Why are people constantly overreacting to such a degree regarding items that may or may not be 'unhealthy', 'dangerous', 'poisonous', etc.?

Almost every, single item in your home has some type of germ, chemical, etc. 'Discoveries' like this only make people afraid and neurotic.
We have been and always will be in contact with these things all our lives.... that's how the body builds immunity.

If you REALLY want to know what's even more 'filthy', 'toxic' and 'unhealthy' than all these scare tactics 'warning' us on a daily basis... think about all the money we handle (including cards and machines)... nobody thinks of banning them...!!!
 
I reckon that you'd have to wrap yourself in the receipts daily for years before you got any appreciable bad effects. Either that or these receipts should come with a Government warning if handling them for probably less than two or three minutes once a week is harmful. I hope these shops have good insurance for when all the checkout chicks start to get ill. ;)
LOVE IT....!!!!
 
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If this chemical really is in eyewear, then that's more of a worry to me, as I wear glasses all the time.
 
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