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How Do You Avoid BPA in Canned Foods?

1/4/2010 12:00:00 AM

Tags: BPA, canned food, health

Food companies have lined canned foods with the chemical bisphenol A (also known as BPA) for years because it acts as a barrier between the metal can and the food. Even though studies have linked the chemical with diabetes, heart disease, infertility, prostate and breast cancers, reproductive abnormalities and weight gain, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) still considers exposure of 50 micrograms per kilogram of BPS per body weight per day According to the research, a 165-pound adult eating one serving of canned green beans, which averaged 123.5 parts per billion of BPA, would ingest about .2 micrograms of the chemical per day. That’s roughly 83 times the amount recommended by the scientists. 

Consumer Reports tested 19 name-brand foods including soups, juices, tuna and green beans. The highest levels of BPA, ranging from 36 parts per billion (ppb) to 191 ppb, were found in Del Monte Fresh Cut Blue Lake Green Beans. High levels were also found in Progresso Vegetable Soup, with BPA levels ranging from 67 to 134 ppb. Campbell’s Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup also contained high levels, ranging from 55 to 102 ppb.

Based on studies from the 1980s, federal guidelines cite safe BPA exposure at 50 micrograms per kilogram of body weight a day. But Consumer Reports’ scientists place that level at around 0.0024 micrograms. According to the study, a 165-pound adult eating one serving of canned green beans, which averaged 123.5 ppb of BPA, would ingest .2 micrograms of the chemical—83 times the recommended amount.

An organic label doesn’t necessarily mean BPA-free. Annie’s Homegrown canned Organic Cheesy Ravioli contained levels of 32 ppb, Eden Foods Baked Beans in “BPA-free” cans averaged 1 ppb, and Vital Choice’s canned tuna in “BPA-free” cans contained an average of 20 ppb. Evidence suggests that BPA may have entered the cans through other means such as through the factory that produced the cans or from an environmental source such as seawater or the tuna.

Since the Consumer Reports study was published, several companies have taken action.

According to the Annie’s Homegrown website, the company uses BPA-lined cans for its tomato-based products because the FDA has not yet approved a BPA-free can for those. The company is currently searching for BPA-free alternatives. Eden Foods is also searching for BPA-free alternatives for its high-acid products.

Vital Choice released a newsletter stating its surprise at the Consumer Reports’ findings. Vital Choice is currently contacting the companies that supply its cans to make sure they’re BPA-free. The company will also test its cans for BPA.

How do you avoid BPA in your food? Do you eat canned food, or opt for frozen or fresh? Leave me a comment in the comments section.

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