It’s No Silver Lining – BPA in Can Linings Leaches into Common Foods
Eating common canned foods is exposing consumers to levels of bisphenol A (BPA) equal to levels shown to cause health problems in laboratory animals, according to a new study released today by The National Work Group for Safe Markets, a coalition of public health and environmental health groups. The study, No Silver Lining, tested food from 50 cans from 19 US states and one Canadian province for BPA contamination. Over 90% of the cans tested had detectable levels of BPA, some at higher levels than have been detected in previous studies.
The canned foods tested were brand name fish, fruits, vegetables, beans, soups, tomato products, sodas, and milks, which together represent “real-life” meal options for a wide range of North American consumers. The cans were purchased from retail stores and were chosen from report participants’ pantry shelves, and sent to an independent laboratory for testing. One can of DelMonte green beans had the highest levels of BPA ever found in canned food, at 1,140 parts per billion.
“Meals involving one or more canned goods can expose an individual to levels of BPA that have been shown to cause adverse health effects in laboratory animal studies,” says Bobbi Chase Wilding of Clean New York, and a report co-author for The National Workgroup for Safe Markets. “I was pregnant with my second child at the time of this study, and I hate to think I exposed her to BPA through the canned foods I ate, especially when there is evidence that even small amounts of this chemical can cross the placenta and impact prenatal development.”
BPA is in the inside lining of most canned foods in North America, and in other polycarbonate containers, like water bottles and baby bottles. BPA has been found in the urine of over 90% of Americans by the Center for Disease Control, and in the cord blood of newborn babies. Exposure to low doses of BPA have been linked to illnesses that are on the rise in the US, including breast and prostate cancer, abnormal behavior, diabetes and heart disease, infertility, developmental and reproductive harm, and obesity, which raises the risk of early puberty, a known risk factor for breast cancer.
“BPA is a bad actor chemical that should not be in contact with food we eat,” says Laura Vandenberg, PhD, of Tufts University, a leading BPA researcher. “Hundreds of independent peer-reviewed scientific studies have found harm from low doses of BPA. The levels found in this study are definitely concerning, and indicate that the time has come to remove this chemical from food cans.”
No Silver Lining test results show there is no consistency in the amount of BPA in specific food brands or in types of food, which prevents consumers from being able to avoid BPA canned foods just by looking at a label. For example, two different cans of the same brand of peas with two separate “lot numbers” were drastically different: one had six parts per billion of BPA, while the other had over 300 parts per billion of BPA.
“Americans should be outraged that food companies are routinely dosing us with the synthetic hormone BPA, which is linked to learning disabilities, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and reproductive problems–in short some of the most prevalent and confounding health problems facing Americans. Federal regulators, food manufacturers and retailers are failing us by allowing tainted foods to fill our store shelves. The New York Legislature must fill this gap by passing a comprehensive BPA ban. Until that day, parents and other consumers should contact food manufacturers and retailers and demand that they get the BPA out of our food,” said Russ Haven, Legislative Counsel for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG).
“Decades of studies have shown that BPA, even at very low doses, is hazardous especially to pregnant women and their developing babies and young men. Mounting evidence of lab research has shown that BPA interferes with mammary gland development during puberty in ways consistent with breast cancer formation, and causes serious problems with male reproductive systems as well. We need safe alternatives for can linings, and legislation is needed to make that happen as soon as possible,” said Margaret Roberts, Program Coordinator for Capital Region Action Against Breast Cancer.
“The findings in this report make it clearer than ever that low income communities across the state of New York that rely heavily on canned goods for their food are at risk of toxic exposure at breakfast, lunch and dinner,” said Cecil Corbin-Mark, Deputy Director for WEACT for Environmental Justice. “This further demonstrates the need for laws and policies that protect not only those who can afford and have access to fresh, organically grown produce but all of us. This is yet another way that low income people are disproportionately harmed by toxic chemicals.”