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Eating It? BPA Found in Surprising Places

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Eating It? BPA Found in Surprising Places

I’ve been concerned about the industrial compound bisphenol A (BPA) ever since I first read about it, and have been chronically frustrated by its potential harm and prevalence in our environment–most specifically in our food, and hence, our bodies. 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 on Sunday, 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.

Anyway. It’s easy to slip into the (wishful) thinking that the FDA is protecting us from toxic threats like this, and that we probably, hopefully, aren’t getting enough of these chemicals to have much of an effect. But now comes Consumer Reports’ latest tests of canned foods including soups, juice, tuna, and green beans. The findings? Almost all of the 19 name-brand foods tested contain some BPA. The canned organic foods they tested did not always have lower BPA levels than nonorganic brands of similar foods analyzed. And, this was crushing to me, they even found the chemical in some products in cans that were labeled “BPA-free.”

The site reports 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.

The FDA says it isn’t a threat, but body burden studies show that BPA was detected in 95 percent of the people included in one sampling–it’s obviously getting to us somehow. Perhaps most telling is that in Japan major manufacturers voluntarily changed their can linings in 1997 to cut or eliminate the use of BPA because of concerns about health effects. A 2003 Japanese study found that the levels of the chemical in subjects’ urine dropped by 50 percent after the change in cans was made. Time to kick the cans!

Next: Stop eating BPA, here’s how

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


+ add your own
6:54AM PDT on Jul 23, 2012

Have been using canned beans, tomatoes & corn. Now I will change my ways. Do not understand why the government keeps our health in jeopardy. Money is the motive I suppose.

5:33PM PST on Mar 4, 2012

great list! thank you :)

Please keep it up with positive pro-active instructions in articles :)

9:28PM PST on Mar 3, 2012

If the FDA and government know of this, why isn't something being done for our health's sake? Big bucks, I'm guessing. This makes the medical profession thrive.

5:32PM PST on Mar 3, 2012

This is very concerning. For storage of leftovers, I made the switch to glass containers instead of plastic tupperware a while back. And, at all costs, I avoid buying anything canned.

2:48PM PST on Mar 3, 2012


7:24AM PST on Mar 3, 2012

I do my best to avoid purchasing foods in containers that contain BPA. But I have 2 grand daughters that live with me and one of them just doesn't seem to get the message to avoid these type containers when buying food and drink products. When she cooks, I generally say I'm not hungry and scavange later in the foods that I know didn't come from those containers.

We are getting more and more into gardening and raising our own vegetables and seasonings. We do our own composting and this way we know what we are putting into our system. I have another grand daughter who lives in an apartment in the city and she has taken to growing in large flower pots on her apartment patio to avoid the additives that the government allows big businesses to put into the containers and the foods.

Oh, and Max M. I ordinarily do not approve of foul language words, but this time I love your comment on what FDA stands for. Because at this point , you are absolutely correct! And might I add, big business $$$$'s has gained them that new name!

6:41AM PST on Mar 3, 2012

I try to buy things in glass which I then recycle. But still need the reminder to avoid canned goods. Can't figure out of Fiji water is OK. Buy glass bottled water if I have to buy water. Thank you for the reminders. Sharing, because knowledge is power.

3:20AM PST on Mar 3, 2012

Wow, Is there nothing the big conglomerates won't poison in their neverending greed!!

10:37PM PST on Mar 2, 2012

My roommate works for SABIC I.P., a huge global plastic manufacturing company. I will surely confront him with this, and the canned foods in the storage room are! For the most part, we switched to glass jars anyway, because of a concern of canned food containing too much iron a few years ago. The beans in tomato sauce however, which my roommate really loves, are still bought canned, because of the canned version of the beans being much cheaper then his glass jarred-nephew. As you can I know this, and his glass jarred-nephew is the only one that's bought from now on!

6:38PM PST on Feb 18, 2011


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