At Least 110 Canned Food Brands Refuse to Give Up BPA

The EWG reveals which brands do and which don't use BPA.

June 2, 2015
canned beans with shopper in supermarket

Bisphenol A, or BPA, has been implicated in health problems ranging from breast cancer to heart attacks. Since food brands aren't eager to disclose whether they use the chemical, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyzed 252 brands of canned food to find out which ones do and which don't use BPA.

Of the brands analyzed, more than 110 still use BPA in some or all of their products. Of those, 78 use BPA-based liners in all of their products. Transparency on this subject continues to be a major issue, as another 100 brands did not provide sufficient information for EWG to complete its analysis. Ultimately, only 31 brands were found to use BPA-free liners.

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Of course, looking just at BPA can have its downside. For instance, BPS, a common replacement for BPA, has been linked to heart damage and brain damage. Most companies did not disclose their alternatives, and those that did were often vague in their discriptions, such as saying they used "a polymer liner that complies with FDA regulations."

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The exception to this transparency issue is Eden Foods. Many of Eden Foods' products are packaged with oleoresin, a natural mixture of plant-based oil and resin. Eden Foods did not make the EWG's list of totally BPA-free brands because some of their tomato products in epoxy-based cans had BPA in a "non-detectable range," or under 5 parts per billion. Fortunately, Eden's bean, rice and bean, refried bean, and chili products are in oleoresin, BPA-free cans.

"As industry scrambles to find alternatives to BPA, concern has grown that without appropriate oversight, food companies will substitute structurally similar chemicals, or new chemicals with toxicity profiles equal to or worse than BPA," reported EWG. "The FDA reviews applications for new chemicals in food packaging but has very little information about them. And since it has limited authority to regulate chemicals that were in use before 2000, BPA-free cans may be made from chemicals that have not been properly studied for long-term health effects."

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To make matters more confusing, labeling is inconsistent, and there is no guarantee that BPA-free labeling is credible. "Companies are free to claim that their cans are BPA-free, armed with little more than certificates and assurances from their suppliers," reported EWG. "In some cases, companies may believe they are buying BPA-free cans, but when independently tested, these cans are discovered not to be BPA-free."

Even with a BPA-free label on the can, the food itself could be contaminated with BPA. Non-canned foods have been found to contain BPA, too, so contamination can clearly happen at different points along the food production line (and not just to canned goods).

The EWG offered a few tips on how to avoid BPA exposure:

• Use fresh, frozen, or dried foods instead of canned.
• Buy foods packaged in glass or cardboard.
• Rinse canned food thoroughly.
• Don't heat food in the can as BPA is more likely to leach into your food when heated.

Check out the full report to see what brands to avoid.

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