Are We Passing the Grade? Chemicals in Canned Food Liners
I’ve noticed a big change in the kinds of water-bottles people cart around. Those colourful hard plastic ones have become an endangered species, due to the risk of bisphenol A (BPA) leaching into the water. Everyone appears to be switching to the stainless-steel variety, which seems to me to be a much better choice.
When huge outdoor-gear companies like Mountain Equipment Coop listen to their customers’ concerns and decide to stop selling water bottles that contain BPA, and the companies that make them (like Nalgene), suddenly lose very large orders, they take notice and change.
We reached the tipping point, where concerned consumers have made BPA in water bottles unsellable. Congratulations, everyone!!! This is the way positive change can happen – consumers have more power than governments to change corporate practice by choosing where they spend their money.
Many families have stopped using baby-bottles and sippy cups made from #7 plastic to feed their infants and toddlers. In 2008, Canada was the first to ban the chemical from baby bottles. Europe followed suit and banned the substance in items for children under the age of 3 in 2011. Even the US finally banned BPA in baby-bottles and sippy cups in the summer of 2012.
Now we need to do this on the food front. France is first to the party, banning BPA from all food packaging in 2012, but Canada still thinks BPA food packaging is nothing to worry about.
A quick review for those that may have missed my earlier articles on BPA in water bottles. Bisphenol A is a xeno-estrogen and therefore an endocrine disruptor, meaning it is a chemical that mimics estrogen in the body, thereby messing up our normal hormone messaging.
Synthetic xeno-estrogens are linked to breast cancer and uterine cancer in women, decreased testosterone levels in men, and are particularly devastating to babies and young children. BPA has even been linked to insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes.
So, have we resolved the BPA problem? Far from it. It is still being used in the resin that lines canned food. Liquid infant formula sold in cans would be the most problematic, as any BPA leached would have a bigger relative effect on a small baby.
According to a recent article in the Globe and Mail babies are missing an liver enzyme needed to detoxify BPA, so the chemical stays in their bodies in higher amounts – up to 11X higher than adults, which is significant. Fetal or neonatal exposure to BPA is associated with hormonal conditions, such as earlier onset of sexual maturity in females and breast cancer.
Foods are heated in the can to destroy microbes, and the heating process causes the BPA to leach into the food. Acid foods like canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and apple juice leach more BPA into the food than non-acidic foods. Examples of canned foods that tested positive for BPA included:
- Hunts Tomato Sauce
- Chef Boyardee
- Mini Beef Ravioli
- Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup
- Allen’s Apple Juice
- Unico Tomatoes
- Molson Dry Beer
- Labatts Ice Beer,
- Heinz Tomato Juice
- Beans with pork and tomato sauce
- Green Giant Cream Styled Corn
- Del Monte peas and carrots
All the food companies involves said that they felt the BPA levels were too low to be of concern, just as the water bottle companies had stated previously.
The only company that I am aware of that makes canned food without BPA is Eden Organics. Please support them!
Replacing canned food with fresh food will improve one’s health, not just because of the reduced exposure to BPA, but also because fresh food contains vitamins, minerals and enzymes that get destroyed in the heating process of canning. Sorry if I sound like a broken record, but to be healthy we need to eat REAL food, not processed food that comes from a factory.
If you can’t breastfeed and you no longer want to use canned liquid infant formula, I highly recommend you purchase the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, and use her infant formula recipes located near the back of the book. Your baby will thrive on these formulas much better than on canned or powdered formula. And the book is a wonderful cookbook full of nourishing recipes for you and your family.