We’ve done several stories on BPA in the past. The plastic hardener has been found in all kinds of consumer products, even baby bottles – particularly dangerous before many companies switched to a new material, because of the developmental disorders BPA can cause in babies. Back in 2010, Canada was the first government to officially designate the additive as a toxin, due to its tendency to leach out of the container and into the food, and affect the hormonal balance of the body because BPA, which stands for bisphenol A, is chemically similar to estrogen.
Now a recent study tells us more of the same. If you regularly eat from containers made of the hard, polycarbonate plastic, you will get BPA into your body. The study compared two groups. Study participants were randomly chosen to be in the canned soup group, or the home-made soup group. Canned soups have a plastic liner inside that leaks BPA into the food, and the study showed definitively that the BPA is absorbed into and builds up in the body.
It’s somewhat ironic because the plastic liner is itself supposed to protect the food from leakage from tin cans, which causes metal poisoning. Do we need a liner for the liner? Obviously switching one toxin for another will not do.
But didn’t I say that BPA had been officially declared toxic, more than a year ago? It’s true, Health Canada did make that designation. But other than being able to go to the department website and find some consumer information about it, there hasn’t been much practical effect. BPA-containing materials have not been banned either for product manufacturers or importers. It’s still on the consumer to get the information and avoid products that could make them sick.
Law school professor, Dayna Nadine Scott, wrote a good piece in the Globe and Mail about the poor government regulation of toxins in Canada. She makes the point that consumers, and primarily women, at that, do the research and go to the trouble to avoid products that probably shouldn’t be on the shelves in the first place. The major problem with that is it puts the burden of food safety on individual consumers who, by-and-large, have no training in medicine, industrial chemistry, or nutritional science.
The implication is that it’s okay to poison people if they don’t happen to read medical journals or government safety reports on a regular basis. There’s certainly a place for individual decision-making in health issues — let’s limit those trips to McDonald’s, please — but isn’t a food container that consistently poisons the food it contains kind of a no-brainer? It’s not really a question of personal choice. No one would choose toxins in their food. These companies are relying on most of their customers simply not having heard about it, and it’s working.
Having said that, for the time being, do avoid these products. Bisphenol A is found in polycarbonate plastic, which is a hard, clear plastic used in bottles, tin can linings, and other hard plastic food or drink containers. There’s some great information here on which products to avoid, at least until either government agencies or manufacturers get their acts together and dispense with the estrogen mimic.
Photo credit: Paulnasca