RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Your can of soup may the last place where you'd expect to find plastic chemicals. But thanks to an epoxy liner commonly used to prevent canned products from reacting to the metal, everything from canned fruit to canned salmon to canned peas is exposed to plastic chemicals for as long as it remains on the shelf. And that could be exposing you to a risk that's been largely ignored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The liner is manufactured with a chemical called
bisphenol A (BPA), which has been linked to a variety of health problems, including hormone disruption, prostate cancer, diabetes, and obesity, as well as aggressive behavior in children. A new analysis by Consumer Reports confirms that BPA that lines cans ends up in the food that we eat.
THE DETAILS: The testers at Consumer Reports purchased three cans each of 19 different food products, including canned soups, vegetables, tuna, and both powdered and liquid baby formula, as well as some products in alternative packaging materials like plastic pouches and boxes. The highest levels of BPA were found in canned green beans and canned soup. A can of Del Monte Fresh Cut Green Beans Blue Lake had 191 parts per billion (ppb) BPA. Progresso Vegetable Soup and Campbell's Condensed Chicken Noodle soup had levels ranging from 54.5 to 134 ppb. Some noncanned products, such as StarKist Chunk Light Tuna packaged in a plastic pouch, had no detectable levels of BPA, while their canned counterparts did. But other products contained BPA even though they weren't packaged in cans: Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup in a plastic container still had detectable levels of BPA, which was suspected as coming from the metal lid. BPA was also detected in one brand of microwave-in-the-bag frozen green beans.
Read more about BPA:
"BPA Free" Products May Still Contain BPA
Common Chemical Linked to a Slew of Health Problems
A Chemical Threat Gains New Urgency
Questionable Chemical Could Seep Into Your Soda
Chemical in Plastics May be Especially Harmful to Women
WHAT IT MEANS: The report's authors noted that their tests were only a "snapshot" of the industry, and weren't intended to skewer particular brands. But the results support the idea that eating canned food exposes us to a chemical that's been gaining more and more attention for its unhealthy effects. "I'd say the number one source, 99 percent of our exposure to BPA, comes in the lining of food cans, dental sealants, and other plastics," says Bruce Lanphear, MD, MPH, professor of health sciences at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and a researcher of BPA.