Want to Avoid BPA in Canned Foods? Stick with These Brands
If you weren’t already worried about the presence of the endocrine-disrupting chemical, bisphenol A (BPA), in the foods you eat, a new study showing that consuming canned soup produces immediate increases in levels of BPA in the body should give you cause for concern.
Numerous studies have linked BPA to health problems ranging from infertility and reproductive cancers to behavioral disorders in children. Canada recently banned BPA, classifying it as a dangerous toxin. The European Union has banned the use of BPA in baby bottles, and is moving towards banning it completely. In the U.S., however, the FDA so far has refused to take action to protect Americans from BPA exposure, yet has admitted that BPA is dangerous.
A recent study found that 92% of canned foods contain BPA, and since there are no regulations for the use or labeling of BPA in food products, it’s worth trying to stick to brands that have a policy on BPA and are honest about which of their products contain the chemical. For any foods that you can’t find in a BPA-free package, it’s probably a good idea to opt for fresh or frozen versions. For many health-conscious individuals, finding BPA-free canned goods simply isn’t worth the effort. They know that nothing beats fresh food in season, in terms of both nutrition and taste, and even frozen foods tend to be higher in nutrients than their canned counterparts. However, there are some foods — namely beans, tomatoes and coconut milk, if you ask me — for which the convenience of a canned product is well, really nice.
Of course, you can certainly do your own canning of fresh, in-season foods at home (in glass mason jars), but luckily, there are a few good BPA-free options out there. Here’s a rundown of what’s available.
Eden Organic actually pioneered the use of BPA-free cans — they have been putting beans in BPA-free cans since 1999. So why don’t all food manufacturers follow their lead? Well, it could be that BPA-free cans cost approximately 2.2 cents more (14%) than cans with standard BPA epoxy liners. (I personally buy Eden Organic beans from time to time, although I always cringe a little when I see the organic store brand next to them on the shelf — at half the price.) Dried beans are an inexpensive alternative to organic BPA-free canned beans and are easy to store and prepare.
According to Eden’s website, “all Eden Organic Beans, Refried Beans, Chilies and Rice & Beans are cooked in steel cans coated with a baked on oleoresinous c-enamel that does not contain the endocrine disrupter chemical, bisphenol-A (BPA).” (Note: Eden’s canned tomato products are not packed in BPA-free cans.)
Alternatives to Canned Tomato Products
At present, there are no canned tomatoes available in cans that are guaranteed to be BPA-free. Muir Glen is the only company that has announced plans to transition to BPA-free cans, but unfortunately, the transition is still underway and there is nothing on their label yet to indicate which cans are BPA-free. Luckily, there are some BPA-free alternatives to canned tomato products available in glass jars and BPA-free asceptic packaging. Of course, any jarred pasta sauce is probably safe from BPA, and there’s always the option of preserving fresh tomatoes in season in glass mason jars, or making tomato sauce from scratch with fresh tomatoes.
These products contain pure organic tomatoes with no added ingredients and are packaged in glass. (Note: Bionaturae also makes canned tomato products, which are not BPA-free.)
Pomi offers a pure tomato products with no added ingredients in a BPA-free asceptic package. Pomi is an Italian product, and is therefore not certified organic by the USDA. However, Pomi states that their tomatoes are non-GMO and grown without herbicides or pesticides according to the European Union’s regulations for sustainable agriculture.
Native Forest Organic Coconut Milk, Fruits and Vegetables
Native Forest is the only brand of BPA-free canned coconut milk available on the market. Their parent company, Edward & Sons, offers at least a dozen different products in BPA-free cans, most of which are organic and sustainably produced.
The majority of the food manufacturers that have made the transition to BPA-free can liners are premium sustainable seafood producers. One reason for that is that canned premium seafood is a priced a bit higher than the average can of vegetables, so that the 2.2 cents premium for BPA-free cans has less of an effect on sales.
Vital Choice cans MSC-certified albacore tuna, salmon, sardines and mackerel with BPA-free liners.
The entire line of Wild Planet Sustainably Caught Canned Seafood canned seafood is BPA-free. It’s also sustainably caught and wild. Wild Planet also chooses smaller fish in order to make its “Low in Mercury” claim.
Eco Fish offers canned albacore tuna packaged in a BPA-free can, and the company has said that it is planning to make the switch to BPA-free cans for its canned salmon once it finds a suitable can source.
Although this list is short, considering the vast number of canned food products on the market, a number of manufacturers in addition to Muir Glen have announced plans to phase BPA out of their packaging in the near future. While we wait on the FDA to enact a ban on BPA, it’s encouraging to see manufacturers stepping up to the challenge of getting BPA out of their products.
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Article updated on: November 26th, 2012