According to consumer reports, canned goods may contain harmful chemicals that could cause adverse health issues such as reproductive abnormalities and heightened risk of breast and prostate cancers, diabetes, and heart disease. Sources say the harmful chemical is in the lining of the can and contains an industrial chemical called Bisphenol A, also known as BPA.
Reports from the FDA indicate that BPA has been present in hard plastic bottles, canned foods and canned sodas since the 1960’s. Some organic labels of canned foods are also guilty of containing traces of BPA. The FDA is aware of this concern, and are currently debating whether or not this is safe for our food supply. An organization dedicated to BPA suggest that there is no known risk from human consumption. Simply put, any harmful effects that may occur from BPA are seen later in life, so it is hard to say if this chemical poses harmful effects. However, with the vast increase in cancers, many wonder if it is something in our food supply that’s the culprit. There is also some debate regarding whether BPA leaches out of plastics (especially from heat exposure) and how much BPA is considered too much.
So What is a Safe Level of BPA?
An FDA report suggest that a safe exposure of BPA is 50 micrograms per kilogram of body weight. However, any testing that has been done for BPA has been done on rodents, not humans. Tests have concluded that when BPA is in the bloodstream, it tends to mimic estrogen. For girls, this means earlier puberty, and for boys this can lead to infertility problems. According to a test conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) who targeted and tested the BPA lining in canned goods and drink cans, the tests found:
- Of all foods tested, chicken soup, infant formula, and ravioli had BPA levels of the highest concern. Just one to three servings of foods with these concentrations could expose a woman or child to BPA at levels that causes serious adverse effects in animal tests.
- For 1 in 10 cans of all food tested, and 1 in 3 cans of infant formula, a single serving contained enough BPA to expose a woman or infant to BPA levels more than 200 times the government’s traditional safe level of exposure for industrial chemicals. The government typically mandates a 1,000-3,000-fold margin of safety between human exposures and levels found to harm lab animals, but these servings contained levels of BPA less than 5 times lower than doses that harmed lab animals.
Common sense tells us that the best way to prevent exposure to BPA is to limit or stear clear from canned goods, foods in hard plastics and canned sodas. Eating fresh foods, or frozen foods would be a healthier approach. This is easier said than done considering most of our food comes pre-packaged in cans or plastic containers. Perhaps now would be a good time to consider growing a vegetable garden.
It must be stated that the FDA is supporting reasonable steps to reduce human exposure to BPA, including actions by industry and recommendations to consumers on food preparation. At this time, the FDA is not recommending that families change the use of infant formula or foods as the benefit of a stable source of good nutrition outweighs the potential risk of BPA exposure. it’s nice to see the FDA looking out for our best interests.