Toxic BPA leaching into canned foods

An alarming new study from the Environmental Working Group analyzed samples of canned fruit, vegetables, soda and baby formula on sale in supermarkets and found that more than 50 percent were tainted with a chemical linked to birth defects, ADHD and cancer. The chemical, bisphenol A (BPA), is an ingredient in plastics that lines food cans.

According to the study, the chemical has been leaching into foods at levels up to 200 times the government’s recommended safe level. According to Dr. Frederick vom Saal, a professor of biology at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and a long-time expert researcher of BPA, there are 94 scientific studies indicating deleterious health effects from BPA.

“If BPA was treated as a drug, it would have been pulled immediately. This chemical can be replaced right now by safer materials, and the public would never notice the difference.” The Organic Consumers Association is planning to launch a campaign to pressure food companies to stop using BPA-tainted cans and other toxic or non-sustainable packaging.

How to avoid BPA

• Metal canned beverages appear to contain less BPA residues, while metal canned pasta and soups contain the highest levels. Canned foods in glass containers are not a BPA risk.

• Plastics with the recycling labels #1, #2 and #4 on the bottom are safer choices and do not contain BPA.

• One-third of liquid baby formulas have high levels of BPA. Powdered formula packaging is generally considered safer.

• Avoid heating foods in plastic containers and do not wash plastic containers in the dishwasher.

• Use glass, porcelain and stainless steel for hot foods.

• Do not let plastic wrap touch your food in the microwave, or better yet, avoid microwave ovens altogether.

• Many metal water bottles are lined with a plastic coating that contains BPA. Look for unlined stainless steel bottles.

• Even plastic does not last forever. Look for cracks or cloudiness in your reusable clear plastic bottles.

• Choose soups and dairy products packaged in cardboard “brick” cartons, which are made of safer layers of aluminum and polyethylene (#2) and are recyclable.



Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 26, Number 2, April/May 2007.


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