Many canned-food companies still use toxic chemical

BPA linked to cancer, heart disease, and obesity

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      The following article was originally published by Environmental Health News

      In a survey of more than 250 brands of canned food, researchers found that more than 44 percent use bisphenol-A lined cans for some or all of their products. 

      With 109 brands not responding or providing enough information, that number could be a lot higher. 

      The survey, released today by the Environmental Working Group, found that 78 brands use BPA-lined cans for all of their products, 34 brands use BPA-lined cans for some of their products and 31 use BPA-free cans for all of their products. The survey was conducted between January and August of 2014.

      BPA is used to make polycarbonate plastics and is found in some canned foods and beverages, paper receipts and dental sealants. Studies show that just about everyone [In Canada, about 91 percent, according to Environmental DefenceGS] has traces of the chemical in their body, and researchers believe diet is the major exposure route. The compound can leach out of can linings and into the food. 

      Bush's, popular for their baked beans, was one of the brands shown in a new report to use BPA in their canned goods.

      Exposure is a concern as BPA has been linked to a host of health impacts including reproductive and developmental problems, obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer. The compound mimics estrogen hormones and can disrupt people's endocrine systems. 

      Last week Environmental Health News reported on new research that found even after people metabolize BPA, the resulting compound may still spur obesity. 

      Some of the more popular brands that the Environmental Working Group found were completely BPA-free were Amy's Kitchen, Annie's Homegrown and Sprouts Farmers Market, while BPA users included Target's Market Pantry, Bush's, Carnation, Dinty Moore and Eagle Brand. 

      See the full report here

      Federal regulations do not require canned goods to disclose BPA-based linings. Environmental Working Group researchers had to rely on data from LabelINSIGHT, a company that gathers U.S. supermarket information. 

      “The biggest problem is that people have no reliable way of knowing whether they are buying food that is laced with this toxic chemical,” said Samara Geller, an Environmental Working Group database analyst, in a statement. “By releasing this analysis, we hope to arm people with the critical information they need to avoid BPA and make smarter shopping decisions.”

      According to the report, "companies that said they had eliminated BPA or were in the process of doing so did not disclose the substitutes they were using," so it's unclear if the BPA-free products were using compounds similar to BPA, such as bisphenol-S, which has been shown to exhibit similar health impacts to BPA.

      Researchers, however, have mostly found BPS in receipt paper. 

      BPA is no longer used in baby bottles and sippy cups in the United States, but the federal Food and Drug Administration has maintained the levels that may leach from canned goods into food do not pose a risk to human health. 

      [Health Canada's website has this to say about BPA: "Health Canada's Food Directorate maintains its opinion that the current dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging uses is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and infants."—GS]

      Environmental Working Group's director of research, Renee Sharp, said a national standard is necessary to protect people's health. 

      “Many people on tight budgets or with little access to fresh food rely on canned food as a source of nutrients,” Sharp said in a statement. “That’s why we need to get this right. We need a clear national standard that limits the use of BPA in canned food and improves transparency so that people can know when and if they are ingesting this harmful chemical.”



      Edward Bernays

      Jun 5, 2015 at 12:43am

      Sodium benzoate. It's in tons of food as a preservative. It's got to go.

      S. A.

      Jun 5, 2015 at 11:32am

      As a person who is allergic to phenol, and a victim of breast cancer, this is pure poison for me. As one of the many people in BC who are abandoned into poverty after getting sick, and falling through the many cracks in the social safety net, soup kitchens help me deal with my malnutrition. But I have no idea what these places are serving. Canada has decided to give us less transparency than ever in labelling, and Health Canada isn't doing the studies that would prove food safety. The Vancouver Food bank gives a lot of questionable food products, and if allergic, or celiac, or diabetic, or with a heart condition, they don't substitute healthy choices. Instead they tell people to trade with others outside, as if we're on the Hastings street market. So malnutrition is setting in. The BC govt doesn't give a damn. The flogging of the people who are not rich will continue. Can we at least order soup kitchens to list ingredients, and stop serving crap that costs the health care system more?