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Delicious Living Blog

BPA in most food cans, according to consumer report

6a00e551a5d9228834011570ee4442970b-800wi.jpgDo you know what's in that can of soup? No, I'm not talking sodium content. I mean do you know what's in the lining of that can of soup? According to a report in the December 2009 issue of Consumer Reports it probably contains Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in the epoxy resin linings of most food and beverage cans that has been linked to infertility, weight gain, behavioral changes, early onset puberty, cardiovascular disease, prostate and breast cancers and diabetes. Of 19 name-brand foods tested, nearly all of them contained measurable amounts of BPA. Worse yet, some of those products were labeled organic and even "BPA-free." Dr. Urvashi Rangan, director of technical policy at Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, said in a release:

The findings are noteworthy because they indicate the extent of potential exposure. Children eating multiple servings per day of canned foods with BPA levels comparable to the ones we found in some tested products could get a dose of BPA near levels that have caused adverse effects in several animal studies. The lack of any safety margin between the levels that cause harm in animals and those that people could potentially ingest from canned foods has been inadequately addressed by the FDA to date.

How much BPA is too much BPA?

This stuff is pretty hard to avoid. One reason is that most companies have yet to transition away from BPA cans. Another is that there are still no BPA alternatives for high-acid foods, like tomatoes, that can react with and leach the metal in cans (this is why some companies claiming to be "BPA- free" still had cans containing the chemical). The federal guideline for the daily upper limit of safe exposure is 50 micrograms of BPA per kilogram of body weight, but this is based on experiments done in the 1980s and the FDA is currently reassessing its levels. Consumer Reports’ food-safety scientists recommend limiting daily exposure to BPA to 0.0024 micrograms per kilogram of body weight.

The products

The highest levels of BPA were in green beans and canned soups, specifically Canned Del Monte Fresh Cute Green Beans (35.9 ppb to 191 ppb), Progresso Vegetable Soup (67 to 134 ppb), and Campbell's Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup (54.5 to 102 ppb). Baby products, including Similac Advance Infant Formula and Nestle Juicy Juice All Natural 100% Apple Juice also contained BPA, with levels under 10 ppb. Even products labeled "BPA-free" contained measurable levels: Vital Choice's tuna (20 ppb) and Eden Baked Beans in "BPA-free" cans (1 ppb).

Smart alternatives

Consumer Reports also tested other packaging, such as plastic containers and bags. With the exception of Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli, plastic packaging contained far lower levels of BPA. Consumer Reports suggests taking these simple precautions to decrease exposure:

1. Choose fresh food when possible.

2. Consider alternatives to cans, such as plastic packaging (although many plastics can still contain BPA, they're typically hard, clear kind).

3. Be sure to use glass containers when heating food in microwave ovens.

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