Cans: A Source of BPA

Consumer concern, raised by reports that polycarbonate plastic bottles leach a hormone-disrupting chemical, Bisphenol A (BPA), has driven some manufacturers to switch to other types of plastic for making bottles. But polycarbonate plastic bottles and food containers are just one potential source of the BPA in our bodies. BPA is also used in the epoxy resin that lines the inside of metal food and soda cans—even infant formula. In fact, most people are probably exposed to more BPA from eating canned food or drinking canned soda than from drinking out of a polycarbonate bottle. BPA leaches out of the can liner into the food or drink, especially when the food is acidic such as is the case with tomato-based products or sodas.

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a hormone-disrupting chemical that has been associated with reproductive abnormalities and hormonal changes. BPA exposure is particularly a concern for babies, young children and pregnant women. Though scientists have been concerned about potential health threats since the early 1990s, the FDA and the federal government have yet to implement any protective regulatory framework for hormone-disrupting chemicals such as BPA.

In response to consumer concern, a few packaged food companies, such as Eden Foods and Heinz, have begun transitioning to alternatives for canned goods. Meanwhile, Hain Celestial and Nestle are involved in researching and testing of alternatives to BPA and have plans to phase out the chemical in some products.

Limit your exposure to BPA:

  • Reduce consumption of canned foods except those from companies such as Eden Foods and Heinz, which are transitioning to BPA-free lining alternatives.  Aseptic cartons are a BPA-free alternative for soups, as well as tomato puree and sauces.  And frozen vegetables are preferable to canned.
  • If you're pregnant, limit your consumption of canned food and soda.
  • New parents should avoid liquid infant formula in cans. Powdered formula is better, and is also the more eco-friendly choice.
  • Write to or call companies whose products you buy (contact information is frequently on canned goods and other products) and urge them to switch to BPA-free technologies for all products in their line for which they are available.

Photo credit: / CC BY-NC 2.0


And what happens to the cans etc. when thrown away - do they finally end up in the sea?Or does the BPA disintegrate?
This article states "Aseptic cartons are a BPA-free alternative for soups, as well as tomato puree and sauces." While they may be BPA free, aseptic are certainly not free of other endocrine disruptors that may be even more toxic than BPA. How about DMP, DEP, DiBP, DBP, and DEHP, some of which are known xenoestrogens. The majority of aseptic packaging is produced under the name TetraPak. This packaging uses a polyethylene liner in contact with the contents. Very recent studies of plain mineral water stored in a TetraPak showed significant leaching of toxins from the liner into the food. The analysis of data demonstrated that the estrogenic contamination of mineral water bottled in Tetra Pak is significantly higher compared to that of water bottled in glass. One can only imagine the results if acidic contents such as wine or tomato products were tested. See: Solutions to this problem, as part of a nature-based approach to a healthy lifestyle, can be found in "The Wellness Project." Roy Mankovitz, Director

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