Tests of Canned Food Brands Reveal Most Have Controversial Chemical in Can Lining

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http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-canned-food-choice-variety-bean-supermarket-shelves-photo-was-taken-april-image30512243Bisphenol-A, or BPA, a chemical component found in plastic bottles and canned food liners, has long courted controversy over its alleged health risks. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has maintained that it is safe at current levels, environmental groups and others contend that the synthetic compound may cause health complications in humans. On Wednesday, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released its list of 78 canned food brands that use BPA in their can lining, along with 31 brands that do not use BPA. The organization said this is the first time that such information has been released. The list of brands containing BPA includes household names such as Progresso, Hormel and Del Monte, as well as more specialized or regional brands. Products that do not use BPA in can lining included those from brands such as Amy’s, Tyson and Earth’s Best Organic. EWG tested 252 canned food items between January and August 2014 to come up with the list and is now encouraging supporters to take action by demanding that the companies using BPA cease doing so. BPA can leach out of container linings and into food, and studies have shown trace amounts to be found in most people. Some studies have shown that large doses of BPA exposure may be linked to a range of health maladies, from reproductive issues to cancer. But FDA and other regulatory bodies around the world have repeatedly dismissed those claims, stating that the levels found in food are far too low to cause any health problems. The American Chemistry Council, for one, agrees. “Scientists and regulatory agencies who have reviewed BPA have concluded that BPA is safe for use in food packaging,” said a representative from the Grocery Manufacturers Association in a statement to Food Safety News. Aside from FDA, that list of regulatory agencies includes the European Food Safety Authority, the World Health Organization, the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, and Health Canada. Last year, scientists from FDA and the National Institutes of Health published a collaborative study looking into the effect of BPA on rats at doses ranging from 70 times the amount Americans typically consume to several million times that amount. Even at 70,000 times the typical American exposure levels, the rats in the study exhibited no significant changes, the researchers found. In May, California’s scientific advisory panel added BPA to its list of toxic chemicals. In 2011, EWG successfully campaigned to have BPA banned from baby bottles and sippy cups in California, and today, bottles and cups designed for babies and young children and sold in the U.S. do not legally contain BPA. The organization’s director of research, Renee Sharp, called for a national standardized limit on BPA in canned foods. “Many people on tight budgets or with little access to fresh food rely on canned food as a source of nutrients,” Sharp said in a statement. “That’s why we need to get this right. We need a clear national standard that limits the use of BPA in canned food and improves transparency so that people can know when and if they are ingesting this harmful chemical.”

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