A report claims that canned food exposes us to a harmful chemical at levels high enough to cause real damage.
By Emily Main, Rodale.com
Your can of soup could put your health at risk, and not just because it contains way too much salt. A report published by the National Workgroup for Safe Markets, a coalition of public- and environmental health-advocacy groups, reveals that cans of food expose people to dangerous levels of bisphenol A (BPA), a hormone-disrupting chemical that has been linked to everything from childhood aggression to obesity and heart disease.
THE DETAILS: Consumer Reports conducted similar tests on BPA in canned food a few months ago, but this new report, titled “No Silver Lining,” looks at the levels in canned food products as well as how much BPA an average person would ingest from eating the foods packaged in those cans. The authors collected 50 samples of canned food from home pantries in 19 states and one Canadian province, and had them tested by an independent lab to determine BPA levels in each can. Then, they calculated how much an average-weight (156.5 pounds) woman in her 20s would ingest from a typical daily diet of canned and fresh foods (they focused on young women because they are most likely to go on to bear children, and more and more studies are finding that some of the most damaging effects of BPA in children happen while they’re in utero).
The laboratory detected BPA in 92 percent of the canned foods, ranging in levels from non-detectable to 1,140 parts per billion. In terms of what that means to people eating canned food, here’s a brief summary of what they found:
• By eating a serving of canned peaches with breakfast, a can of ravioli for lunch, a can of chicken noodle soup as a snack, canned chili for dinner, and using coconut milk in a dessert a woman could ingest 75.4 μg, or 1.06 μg/kg body weight of BPA;
• By eating a serving of canned peaches with breakfast, a can of lentil soup for lunch, and tuna casserole made with canned tuna, peas, cream of mushroom soup, and vegetable broth for dinner, followed by bananas in canned coconut milk for dessert, she could ingest 87.28 μg, or 1.23 μg/kg body weight of BPA through canned foods alone.
• By eating no canned goods in the morning and afternoon, and just one can of soda and a single serving of green beans at dinnertime, she could ingest 138.19 μg, or 1.95 μg/kg body weight of BPA.
Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said that an exposure level of 50 μg/kg body weight of BPA per day is safe, the authors note that these low levels have been found in both human and animal studies to be linked with aggressive behavior, changes in breast tissue and other reproductive organs, and long-term reproductive health problems.