Sunday, November 16, 2008

BPA in Canned Foods

To follow up on the previous post about BPA, I want to warn everyone about canned food. BPA is used to line aluminum cans, and seems to be the source of a major amount that we ingest. According to the Environmental Working Group, no matter what brand you use or where you buy your canned food, the cans are almost certainly lined with an epoxy resin that contains BPA. If they didn't use it, the cans might rust, or you might end up with metal residues in your food. But because of the high temperatures used in the canning process, your potential exposure to BPA from canned food is much higher than your potential exposure from plastic water bottles.

The Toronto Globe and Mail conducted a study in conjunction with a Canadian TV station, and reported the results in an article on Thursday, May 29, 2008.

They found the following results:

Hunt's tomato sauce: 18.21
Allen's apple juice: 17.90
Heinz tomato juice: 14.11
Labatt beer: 9.27
Campbell's chicken noodle soup: 8.61
Molson beer: 8.19
Del Monte peas and carrots: 6.76
Green Giant cream style corn: 6.52
Chef Boyardee mini been ravioli: 6.17
Heinz zoodles: 4.65
Heinz baked beans: 2.88

An article in Chemical and Engineering News reports that the food packaging industry maintains that BPA has done much to improve the health and safety of consumers..."The primary function of the internal coating is to avoid food poisoning," adds John M. Rost, chairman of the North American Metal Packaging Alliance, an industry group that represents the metal food and beverage packaging industry. Without the coating, Escherichia coli and botulism poisoning would be rampant, he says.

The Environmental Working Group indicates that one manufacturer uses non-BPA lining on some of their food cans, however. Eden Organic Beans are packed in lead free tin covered steel cans coated with a baked on oleoresinous c-enamel lining that does not contain bisphenol A (BPA). (Oleoresin is a natural mixture of an oil and a resin extracted from various plants, such as pine or balsam fir). These cans cost 13.77 percent more than the industry standard cans that do contain BPA. This costs Eden $300,000 more a year. To our knowledge Eden is the only U.S. company that uses this custom made BPA-free can. Eden's tomato products are still packaged in cans with a BPA-based lining.

For everything else, the safest choice is to use fresh, instead of canned, fruits and vegetables, and to make your soups from scratch. It will taste better and contain more nutrients, too.

Further Reading:
Environmental Working Group: Bisphenol A: Toxic Plastics Chemical in Canned Food
How Cans Are Made (well-illustrated!)


Dirt said...

I'm glad to see Eden is an exception to the rule; and feel fortunate we've been partial to their products for some time.

But on the other hand... that's only when we eat at home. I'm thinking of all the tomato-sauce cans and canned beans being used by restaurants and cafeterias.

Hopefully, an EPA and FDA revitalized by the Obama administration will renew attention to BPA. A welcome outcome would be if canned product makers were prodded to switch to the type of lining favored by Eden.

Of course, some would also say that this is all an even better reason to eat fresh/local/seasonal, and avoid canned items altogether.

Michelle said...

This is interesting! I did not know about the cans. Thanks for keeping the great information flowing.