hink you’re safe from the effects of BPA (Bisphenol A) because you tossed your old Nalgene bottle and traded it in for a newer, toxin-free model? Think again.
BPA Gets the Boot…. Kind Of
It’s been a few years since BPA was flagged as a potentially toxic, hormone-disrupting chemical, prompting many retailers to withdraw products containing polycarbonate plastics containing BPA. In a sweeping response to consumer concern of BPA’s potential endocrine-disrupting effects on infants and young children — including adverse negative developmental and neurological effects — and its association with obesity and diabetes in adults, manufacturers pulled plastic baby bottles containing BPA, and its use in baby bottles was officially banned in the European Union and Canada.
In 2010, a report from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amplified these concerns regarding exposure of fetuses, infants and young children, and in that same year, Canada became the first country to outright declare BPA a toxic substance.
But that doesn’t mean you won’t find it in a grocery store near you. Or in the linings of the canned goods in your kitchen. Or in your body.
You Are What You Eat
In a small-scale study at Harvard University, a group of 75 people were split, where half of the group ate one can of vegetable soup for a week, whereas the other half of the group ate a home made, non-canned variety each day for the week. At the end of the study, the levels of BPA measured in the bodies of people in the canned-soup group were 1000 times greater than those of individuals in the can-free group.
Stocking Toxins at the Grocery Store
Despite its toxicity and the growing concerns around it, the BPA horse is out of the gate, and virtually all of the canned goods available to consumers today are still lined with a substance containing BPA, likely due to the inconvenience of changing their manufacturing processes, and because too few consumers know enough about Bisphenol A to kick up a fuss.
Some brands, like Eden Organic, are taking a proactive stance by shifting to the use of BPA-free can linings, but they are few and far between, are not available at all food retailers, and are at a price point which puts them out of reach for many consumers.
The Bottom Line
Until more companies get their acts together and quit using BPA to line food cans— something which probably won’t happen until they’re legislated to do so — here’s what you can do to protect your health and that of your family:
- Unless a brand specifically declares that their canned goods are without a BPA lining, assume that it contains BPA and steer clear.
- Purchase fresh or frozen vegetables.
- Purchase preserved foods which have been canned in glass jars.
- Try your hand at canning your own food in mason jars — you’ll know exactly what’s in your food and save money, too!
- Make your own soups; eat them fresh and/or freeze them in glass-lock, freezer-safe storage containers.
- You know what they say about the squeaky wheel… write your grocer demanding canned goods with BPA-free linings.