6 Tips for Avoiding Canned Food

Ah, the wonder of canned food. Whip it open, heat it up…and voilà, your meal is served. What’s wrong with this picture?

When Consumer Reports performed tests of canned foods including soups, juice, tuna, and green beans. They found that almost all of the 19 name-brand foods tested contain Bisphenol-A (BPA). The canned organic foods they tested did not always have lower BPA levels than nonorganic brands of similar foods analyzed. And they even found the chemical in some products in cans that were labeled “BPA-free.”

More than 100 peer-reviewed studies have found BPA to be toxic at low doses. BPA is a synthetic estrogen and commonly used to strengthen plastic and line food cans. As Nicholas D. Kristof points out in an Op-Ed in The New York Times, scientists have linked it, though not conclusively, to everything from breast cancer to obesity, from attention deficit disorder to genital abnormalities in boys and girls alike. It also has a negative effect on your libido!

Consumer Reports states that a 165-pound adult eating one serving of canned green beans from the test sample, could ingest about 80 times more BPA than their experts’ recommended upper daily  limit. Children eating multiple servings per day of canned foods with BPA levels comparable to the ones they found in some tested products could get a dose of BPA approaching levels that have caused adverse effects in several animal studies.

So how to get around an item that has become an indispensable in the pantries of most? Here are six ways to beat the cans.

1. Opt for fresh produce when you can, choose frozen produce over canned.
Fresh and local produce is always the best option, but did you know that fruits and vegetables picked at the peak of their ripeness and freshness, quick-frozen in the appropriate conditions, and whose temperatures were carefully maintained possibly offer superior nutritional value than if bought fresh?

2. Buy fresh produce and freeze it for future use.
Buy produce at your super market or farmer’s market when it’s in season and freeze it for later use. Read Tips for Freezing Fresh Produce to discover the best ways to handle which types of produce.

3. Use dried beans instead of canned beans.
Beans may be the most-consumed canned product many of us use. If you’ve never cooked dried beans from scratch, you will probably be very surprised at how easy, economical, and delicious they are. Read about heirloom beans, and then read Best Tips for Cooking Beans.

4. Cook from scratch
Along with beans, soup is all too convenient to buy canned. But like beans, it’s cheap and easy to make–and can be frozen for later use. If you are concerned about freezing in plastic, use glass freezer storage containers–Ball makes glass freezing jars as well.

5. Buy prepared foods in jars
Glass is always the better option than canned when buying prepared foods. Especially with any tomato products–as the acid in tomatoes help to leach BPA into the product.

6. If you use plastic for storing fresh food, know what’s best
When possible it is best to avoid #7 plastics, especially for children’s food. Plastics with the recycling labels #1, #2 and #4 on the bottom are safer choices and do not contain BPA. Read all about plastic and food storage here.

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116 comments

Jo S.
Jo S.8 months ago

Thank you Melissa.

Jo S.
Jo S.9 months ago

Thank you Melissa.

Joe R.
Joe R.4 years ago

Thanks.

Ellie Damann
.4 years ago

thanks

Cheryl B.
Cheryl B.4 years ago

thanks for the info

Lika S.
Lika S.5 years ago

My son can't eat foods that contain a lot of MSG or other preservatives. So I end up cooking, and it's fun learning to do different recipes, and it's actually not as bad as what you'd think on the wallet.

We do tacos & fajitas, Asian stir fry, teriyaki chicken, spaghetti, etc... all loaded with a TON of veggies.

Ira M.
Ira M.5 years ago

Thank you!

Sheri P.
Sheri P.5 years ago

It seems like I've read that the worst thing you can buy canned is tomatoes. Because of their acidity they absorb more of the BPA than other foods(?). Don't quote me, I am just commenting on what I think I have read in the past...

Sheri P.
Sheri P.5 years ago

Good info, thanks!

Karen F.
karen Friedmn5 years ago

It's hard to avoid canned when you are in a pinch, just limit hat you use.