I find canned food to be the worse option when it comes to quick meals. Not only are the vegetables usually mushy, the risk of BPA exposure keeps me away from most canned foods.
Four years ago, I wrote a post about canned food and BPA during my early days of blogging. This post caught the attention of a major natural food company, who did not believe Eden Foods cans were BPA-free, as they had not found such cans to readily available for their products. In fact, this company had Eden’s cans independently tested, and did indeed find they were BPA-free.
Finally, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) scientists have tested and found BPA in 90% of canned food.
Although the FDA’s website still claims “that BPA remains safe in food contact materials;” however, Science News reports on the latest FDA research:
…the researchers now report finding BPA tainting 71 of the 78 canned goods they sampled — or slightly more than 90 percent. They also tested frozen green beans and peas that had been sold in plastic bags as a potential control. As expected, neither frozen veggie contained BPA.
The lowest concentration of BPA in canned foods — 2.6 parts per billion — occurred in a can of peas. But another can of the same vegetable contained BPA at 310 ppb. Tainting of green beans varied 30-fold (up to 730 ppb). Some foods, like pasta, pork and beans, chili, soups and fruits varied less, typically hosting BPA at levels of between 10 and 80 ppb…
Oh, and the new data show that BPA concentrations tend to be 10 fold higher in a canned food than in any liquid (like water or syrup) in which it had been packaged.
71 of 78 canned foods tested contained amounts of BPA, and the researchers note that large scale studies of canned food in the US has not been conducted. Even so, the FDA still just cautions consumers to limit exposure rather than regulate the industry. The Environmental Working Group explains:
“Federal health agencies warn parents to limit their children’s BPA exposures,” senior analyst Sonya Lunder, M.P.H., said. “But with the chemical found in canned food, store receipts and even umbilical cord blood, we think that ‘buyer beware’ isn’t good health policy. Systematic protections for children are the only solution.”..
After its 2007 tests, EWG urged FDA to update its tests of canned food for BPA, last conducted in 1995. Scientists have long known that epoxy breaks down quickly, causing BPA to migrate into food from can linings. According to biomonitoring surveys by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly all Americans test positive for BPA. In 2009, EWG tests found BPA in 9 of 10 umbilical cord blood samples, the first detections of the chemical in U.S. newborns.
In both the EWG and FDA studies, green beans were the most heavily contaminated. In the FDA tests, a single serving of beans with the highest BPA level could result in a dose uncomfortably close to the amount that has caused permanent damage to lab animals. Bisphenol A acts like estrogen in the body, can disrupt the hormone system and cause other harmful effects, even at very low doses.
If you can’t afford seasonal fresh food, then frozen or dried food is your best option.
Photo: Some rights reserved by maureen lunn
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