New Study Finds BPA in Canned Foods
Eating canned foods is exposing consumers to levels of bisphenol A (BPA) equal to levels shown to cause health problems in laboratory animals, according to a new study released today by the Minnesota public health coalition Healthy Legacy and the National Work Group for Safe Markets. The study, No Silver Lining, tested food from 50 cans from 19 US states and one Canadian province for BPA contamination. Over 90 percent of the cans tested had detectable levels of BPA, some at higher levels than have been detected in previous studies.
The Results Are In:
The canned foods tested were brand name fish, fruits, vegetables, beans, soups, tomato products, sodas, and milks, which together represent “real-life” meal options for a wide range of North American consumers. The cans were purchased from retail stores and were chosen from report participants’ pantry shelves, and sent to an independent laboratory for testing. One can of DelMonte green beans had the highest levels of BPA ever found in canned food, at 1,140 parts per billion.
BPA is inside the lining of most canned foods in North America, and in other polycarbonate containers, like water bottles and baby bottles. BPA has been found in the urine of over 90 percent of Americans by the Center for Disease Control, and in the cord blood of newborn babies. Exposure to low doses of BPA have been linked to illnesses that are on the rise in the US, including: breast and prostate cancer, abnormal behavior, diabetes and heart disease, infertility, developmental and reproductive harm, and obesity, which raises the risk of early puberty, a known risk factor for breast cancer.
No Silver Lining test results show there is no consistency in the amount of BPA in specific food brands or in types of food, which prevents consumers from being able to avoid BPA canned foods just by looking at a label. For example, two different cans of the same brand of peas with two separate “lot numbers” were drastically different: one had six parts per billion of BPA, while the other had over 300 parts per billion of BPA.
Shouldn't There Be a Law to Protect Us?
Because there is no federal law banning the use of BPA in food and drink containers, advocates pointed to the need for stronger laws to protect consumers from the harmful chemical. Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) is demanding that a ban on BPA in food and beverage containers be included in the Food Safety Modernization Act, a bill moving through the Senate that looks at important external food contaminants like E.coli and salmonella but doesn’t look at dangerous packaging additives like BPA that are leaching from cans into food and into people.
BPA has been banned from baby bottles and children’s sippy cups in five states (Connecticut, Maryland, Minnesota, Washington and Wisconsin) with a sixth BPA ban bill expected to be signed into law in Vermont soon, four counties in New York and the City of Chicago. Connecticut and pending legislation in Vermont restrict the use of BPA in cans of formula and baby food.
Denmark recently banned BPA in all infant food packaging and Canada and France have banned BPA in baby bottles. Japan asked manufacturers for voluntary restriction of BPA from canned food in 1998 and saw a decline in their population’s levels of contamination.