New product tests by researchers with the Breast Cancer Fund suggest the presence of the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, in several canned foods that you may rely on to prepare a typical Thanksgiving dinner.
In several animal and some human studies, BPA has been linked to adverse health effects such as breast and prostate cancer, infertility, early onset of puberty in girls, type-2 diabetes, obesity and certain neurological disorders. The chemical has been used for years in food-can liners, as well as clear plastic bottles, and has been restricted in Canada and some U.S. states and municipalities.
Our own tests for BPA in canned foods found a wide range of levels of the toxic chemical in foods such as soups, juice, tuna and green beans.
The Breast Cancer Fund said that single servings of almost half of the canned products it had tested had levels of BPA comparable to levels that laboratory studies have linked to adverse health effects. The test results, released today, also found that the same products made by the same companies had varying levels of BPA. For example, levels of BPA in Del Monte creamed corn ranged from non-detectable to 221 parts per billion (ppb), and levels in Campbell’s Turkey Gravy ranged from 5 to 125 ppb.
According to scientists at the Breast Cancer Fund, the variations in BPA levels could be due to differences in the canning processes at facilities, as well as storage and transportation conditions.
The Breast Cancer Fund tested the following 7 products:
- Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup
- Campbell's Turkey Gravy
- Carnation Evaporated Milk (by Nestle)
- Del Monte Fresh Cut Sweet Corn (Cream Style)
- Green Giant Cut Green Beans (by General Mills)
- Libby's Pumpkin (by Nestle)
- Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce
“Preparing your Thanksgiving dinner with these products can deliver a concerning level of BPA,” Jeanne Rizzo, president and CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund said in a press release.
The Breast Cancer Fund sent 28 canned food items (four cans of each product) to Anresco Laboratories, an independent testing laboratory in San Francisco.
The tests detected no BPA in all four cans of Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce. The Breast Cancer Fund stated that further research is needed to understand why this product was different from all the rest tested, since the company has stated that it does use BPA in its cans.
BPA is used to make the epoxy-resin linings of metal food cans. The lining forms a barrier between the metal and the food which helps to prevent bacterial contamination. However, BPA is thought to be able to leach from the resin into the food.
You may be exposing yourself to BPA by eating meals prepared with canned foods, but in addition, since tests by the Breast Cancer Fund and others, including our own, found such varying levels of BPA, it means you essentially have no way of knowing what your levels of exposure might be.
In the meantime, if you want to take steps to reduce, though not necessarily eliminate, your dietary exposure to BPA, experts have made the following recommendations:
- Choose fresh food whenever possible.
- Consider alternatives to canned food, beverages, juices, and infant formula.
- Use glass containers when heating food in microwave ovens.
For can-free recipes for Thanksgiving visit www.breastcancerfund.org/thanksgiving.