avoiding bisphenol A

in light of ongoing criticism of BPA in food packaging, i conducted a little online snooping around to find out more about which products are likely to contain BPA in the first place. i found a couple of informative articles, including the Green Guide's coverage of BPA in can liners, even organic ones ("The Bisphenol-A Debate: A Suspect Chemical in Plastic Bottles and Cans"), which covers how low doses of the chemical may actually be more harmful as a hormone disruptor than high ones, especially in fetuses and newborns. the article follows up with some tips to minimize BPA exposure, though unfortunately, simply trying to avoid canned goods altogether may not be practical for many of us.

OrganicConsumers.org has reproduced an article from Terrain Magazine, which goes into more depth on the risk of BPA from canned goods, explaining how the polymer is commonly used in the epoxy which lines the insides of cans, in both organic and conventional products ("Consumer Alert: Toxic Hormone-Disrupting Chemical BPA is Leaching from Food Can Liners"). the problem is that acidic foods like tomatoes will cause steel cans to rust over time -- but at the same time, canned tomatoes are far superior to the pale, grainy tomatoes available in the market off-season. foods like beans are less of an issue since they don't require a lining, though some companies may use epoxy in those cans anyhow. This article also offers some useful suggestions for avoiding BPA, like using stainless steel reusable water bottles instead of polycarbonate, keeping #7 plastics out of the dishwasher and microwave (since heat may cause the BPA to leach more quickly), and learning to put up dried beans rather than use canned (i soak large quantities of beans at a time, then cook them and freeze whatever i'm not ready to use, with the added benefit that homemade frozen beans are much firmer and better-tasting than canned, and cost less, too). lastly, the article helpfully links to the full report from the Environmental Working Group (http://ewg.org/reports/bisphenola/execsumm.php).

finally, OrganicGrace.com has compiled a useful list of which organic food companies use BPA in their can liners, and which do not. notably, Trader Joe's is one of the few companies that offers organic canned foods that claims not to use BPA in their liners -- Muir Glen, Eden Foods, Amy's, Bionaturae and others all use BPA-containing epoxy in their cans of tomatoes (although Eden does not use BPA in their organic beans, and Bionaturae also sells excellent strained tomatoes in glass jars). i emailed Muir Glen last week to protest their use of BPA (the company is now owned by General Mills, and has an online contact form), but they were slow to respond. this week, i finally received an emailed response, but they largely overlooked the concerns i raised over growing scientific evidence against BPA, and claimed that the FDA still considers its use in can linings to be safe for food preservation. of course, it's worth noting that the FDA equally considers conventional produce with trace pesticides to be safe for consumption -- so by that logic, why offer an organic product at all? it seems contradictory to make claims about the benefits of organic while using a potentially unsafe chemical in food packaging.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for all your research.
You reported that Trader Joes does not use bisphenol A in their canned organic products. I called their customer relations line and they said this was NOT true. Evidently it is only their canned seafood and meat products that have no bisphenol a in the can lining. All other products do. They seemed very intersted in customer feedback so calling about this issue may do some good.
Trader Joes Customer Relations# 626-599-3817

Anonymous said...

Please join this campaign / sign this petition regarding Muir Glen and their BPA-lined cans.


Geoff said...

from Web Customer Relations
date Wed, Feb 10, 2010 at 9:55 AM
subject RE: Trader Joe's Product Information Form
mailed-by traderjoes.com

Dear Mr. Bard,

Thank you for contacting us. Canned items in our stores WITH BPA lining in the cans would include: tomatoes, tomato sauce & paste, soups, chili, and stew.

Canned items in our stores that DO NOT have BPA lining in the cans include: seafood (tuna, salmon, herring, sardines, etc.), chicken, turkey & beef and now beans and corn. All of our products and packaging are within food safety guidelines and regulations. However, we also wanted to inform you that we do not have any plastic packaging with BPA.

Customer Relations