Food News: The Latest on BPA

Food News: The Latest on BPA

Emily Han
Nov 4, 2009

Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical found in plastics and food packaging, has made headlines in the past couple of years as it has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, breast and prostate cancers, and reproductive abnormalities. Many of us changed our water bottles due to BPA concerns. A new study from Consumer Reports suggests we might want to check our pantries, too...

For its December issue, Consumer Reports tested 19 name-brand canned foods, including soups, juice, tuna, and green beans. They found that almost all of these contained BPA, including some that were labeled "BPA-free." Are the amounts of BPA they found safe to ingest? That's under debate. According to CR:

The debate revolves around just what is a safe level of the chemical to ingest and whether it should be in contact with food. Federal guidelines currently put the daily upper limit of safe exposure at 50 micrograms of BPA per kilogram of body weight. But that level is based on experiments done in the 1980s rather than hundreds of more recent animal and laboratory studies indicating serious health risks could result from much lower doses of BPA.

The FDA is expected to release its reassessment of BPA safety later this month. There are also bills pending in Congress to ban BPA in all food and beverage containers.

If you're concerned about BPA, Consumer Reports and health advocates recommend choosing fresh or frozen food over canned, buying tomato sauce in glass jars and soda in plastic or glass bottles, and using powdered instead of ready-to-serve infant formula.

In our own kitchen, we have already minimized our reliance on canned goods in an effort to eat local and waste less. The BPA issue is just another incentive to use fresh produce, visit the bulk bin, cook our own beans, and do our own canning – although we might want to be careful there, too. According to Organic Gardening magazine, several brands of canning jar lids also contain BPA.

Further reading:
Concern over canned foods, from Consumer Reports
Naomi Starkman's coverage of BPA, from Civil Eats
Home Canning: Pickles, Peppers, and a Dash of BPA?, from Utne Reader

Related: Good Question: Best Healthy Alternative Water Bottles?

(Image: Emily Ho)

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