Canned Food and BPA


Many people are aware of the dangers of BPA, and this issue has been explored extensively in the parenting blogosphere regarding baby bottles and sippy cups. But did you know that tin/steel cans used for food and some aluminum beverage cans are lined with an epoxy resin that contains Bisphenol A (BPA)? This lining’s purpose is to prevent corrosion and contamination of the food, but what about BPA contamination of the food/beverage?

Should we be worried about BPA leaching into our food? According to bisphenol-a.org, the answer is no, “an average adult consumer would have to ingest more than 230 kilograms (or about 500 pounds) of canned food and beverages every day for an entire lifetime to exceed the safe level of BPA set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.” bisphenol-a.org is an industry group, and somehow, I think their information may not be impartial.

Hmmmm, what about children? The Environmental Working Group tested canned food for BPA contamination. EWG states,

“Canned foods are thought to be the predominate route of BPA exposure…Two of six cans of infant formula tested contained BPA. The exposure that an infant might receive from canned formula, given his or her small size and limited food sources, makes the level of contamination in these cans particularly disturbing…For 1 in 10 cans of all food tested, and 1 in 3 cans of infant formula, a single serving contained enough BPA to expose a woman or infant to BPA levels more than 200 times the government’s traditional safe level of exposure for industrial chemicals…we found that significant fractions of women who regularly eat canned food would exceed safe levels of BPA exposures on average throughout pregnancy.”

So what’s the big deal about BPA? The Green Guide writes,

“Recent research suggests that BPA’s effects extend beyond the reproductive system. A growing number of scientists are concluding, from animal tests, that exposure to BPA in the womb raises the risk of certain cancers, hampers fertility and could contribute to childhood behavioral problems such as hyperactivity. A January 2006 Environmental Health Perspectives study on mice indicated that BPA alters the function of mouse pancreatic cells, which produce insulin, suggesting that the chemical may enhance the risk of developing Type II diabetes…panelists from the Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction failed to reach any conclusions about the chemical. But recent tests by the Environmental Working Group found high levels in infant formula and chicken soup”

According to the Food Poisoning Law Blog,

“Scientists have detected BPA in breast milk, serum, saliva, urine, amniotic fluid, and cord blood from at least 2,200 people in Europe, North America, and Asia. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently detected BPA in 95% of nearly 400 U.S. adults and children.”

I contacted two major manufacturers of organic canned food. One of them responded (anonymous), and the other did not (Eden Foods). One of them claims to have BPA free tin cans (Eden Foods), the other did not (they wish to remain anonymous). According to a marketing employee of the anonymous company,

“I am told by the various can suppliers – shrinking number of can suppliers as with most industries in the US – that all commercially produced cans – repeat – all commercially produced cans – have Bisphenol A in their lining…that this is what they use to keep the to keep the metal of the can from leaching into the food…

So as I said, I have received a few inquiries about this, “out of the blue” in the past few weeks, and one of the consumers that I sent the above information to wrote back to me and said, “Eden Foods says they don’t use Bisphenol A in their cans.”

Now, I have made it a policy over the years not to comment on what other companies say or do, or allegedly say or do…but…

the skeptic in me looks at the above statement and alarm bells go off and I want to say, “yes, THEY don’t use Bisphenol A – the cans come with the lining already in them…”

I have to say that I agree with the skeptic. If you were the only food company to have BPA free cans, wouldn’t you plaster this across your label? That being said, I still have switched to only purchasing Eden Foods for the few canned items we buy. I have searched Eden Foods website on numerous occassions looking for this BPA-free claim. The only place I can find it touted is in the right sidebar here. They state,

“Avoiding Chemicals in Plastics & Cans:
• Choose soups, milk and soy milk packaged in cardboard “brick” cartons, by Tetra Pak and SIG Combibloc, which are made of safer layers of polyethylene (#2) and also recyclable.
• Choose canned beans from makers who don’t use BPA, such as Eden Foods”

Don’t forget about the bottle/sippy cup risk. Stating a study done by Environment California, the Grist reported back in February and March that,

“when run through a simulated dishwasher 50 to 75 times, name-brand baby bottles leach the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, in levels that have caused reproductive abnormalities in lab animals…”This is one of the highest-volume produced chemicals in the world,” says Fredrick vom Saal, a Missouri biology professor and BPA researcher. “It’s in everybody’s bodies, and it’s a very potent sex hormone. It’s just nuts that it’s being used the way it is.”

Z Recommends has issued their own Z Report on BPA in baby bottles, as well as pacifiers.

Comments

  1. I contacted Eden Foods about BPA in their cans and this was their re-assuring response:

    “Eden Organic Beans are packed in lead free tin covered steel cans coated with a baked on oleoresinous (a natural mixture of an oil and a resin extracted from various plants, such as pine or balsam fir) c-enamel lining that does not contain bisphenol-A. These cans cost 13.77% more than the industry standard cans that do contain bisphenol-A.

    Eden Organic Tomatoes are packed in lead free tin covered steel cans coated with a baked on r-enamel lining. Due to the acidity of tomatoes, the lining is epoxy based and may contain a minute amount of bisphenol-A, it is in the ?non detectable? range in extraction test. The test was based on a detection level at 5 ppb (parts per billion).”

    I’ll be buying more from them!

  2. Thanks for the great update on the BPA exposure. We certainly have changed many of our products at home and continue to update ourselves on new products available to us with less or no BPA.

  3. Charlotte says:

    Do ALL cans have the lining? Some of the store brand cans we buy don’t appear to have any lining (the inside of the can is metallic, not white).

  4. As far as my research has revealed, yes, all tin/steel cans in the US are lined.

  5. Charlotte says:

    I contacted the store (HEB) and they said the same thing. They also said that they are pressuring their manufacturer to find alternatives. Guess I wasn’t the first one to ask!

  6. Parts per billion (ppb), as mentioned for Eden, is not low enough. The body responds to its own hormones, which bisphenol A is said to mimic, in parts per TRILLION.

  7. While I’m not a lawyer, and I think the suggestion for BPA-free cans to be labeled is fantastic, it is possible that in the lawsuit-happy food industry of America this could backfire. It may create undue burden on canners using BPA linings by forcing them to also ensure their cans are safe – loss in profits of the competition will get them looking for scapegoats. While not “slander” per se, there was big news recently when a meat packer in Kansas wanted to test all beef they process for BSE/Mad Cow to increase confidence with their customers and the right of the Dept of Ag to refuse this practice to occur because of the “undue burden” it would add to the rest of the meat industry, presumably because consumers would demand all beef be tested. Disgusting.. Corporate interests trump consumer safety.

    http://www.newsday.com/news/health/wire/sns-ap-mad-cow,0,2929701.story

  8. The Enviromental Working Group report sited here notes direct links between exposure to Bisphenol-A and prostate or breast cancer and infertility in adult humans.

    A little is OK? Stop smoking crack!

    also see http://www.ewg.org/reports/bisphenola

  9. Can I suggest that you (everyone) take a look at http://www.stats.org. It’s a George Mason university site that examined the whole BPA issue as a third party. It is remarkable reading.

    In short, the media, and even the new media here in blogs like this one, are guilty of chicken little behaviour and not digging into an issue — but instead just regurgitating rumor and innuendo for readership.

    All the BPA tests that showed a problem (literally 100%) were studies in which animal subjects were INJECTED with BPA. In all the studies in which BPA was orally ingested, even at ridiculous levels, there was literally no problem. That appears to be because our digestive system pairs up a sugar molecule with the BPA molecule and it gets excreted in urine.

    This whole thing is a farce. I’m no scientist, but you can’t use an injection study to simulate an ingestion risk.

    The only thing worse than an untrustworthy government, is untrustworthy media. Due diligence folks!!

  10. The only canned food I use is Native Forest Coconut Milk and it is also BPA free. I’m assuming the rest of their products are too.

  11. Dejean Sullinger says:

    All I can say about “Mike C’s” comment, is don’t stop researching because of what he said…..the proof is everywhere about how damaging this chemical is….what amount will you put in your kids? How much is okay to you? This needs to be removed from anything that comes in contact with food that we put into our bodies. We can go back to the oleoresinous c-enamel that does not contain the endocrine disrupter chemical, bisphenol-A (BPA). Lets do it!!!

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