Over the past several years, concern over the endocrine-disrupting chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) has multiplied exponentially. More people than ever before are aware of the potential side-effects of BPA, a chemical compound that is used in plastics manufacturing and many other capacities, such as breast and prostate cancer, obesity, infertility, type 2 Diabetes, asthma and ADHD.
As a result, more and more companies are moving to BPA-free packaging and the label BPA-free can be seen in many grocery stores as well as health food stores. This, of course, is good news, however, a March 2016 report reveals that despite where we may have come in regards to BPA in food packaging, we are still in a very bad situation.
The report entitled, “BPA: Buyers Beware – Toxic BPA and Regrettable Substitutes Found in the Linings of Canned Food,” a collaborative effort by the Breast Cancer Fund, Campaign for Healthier Solutions, Clean Production Action, Ecology Center and Mind the Store Campaign reveals that out of the samples tested by their researchers the overwhelming majority of them still contained BPA in their linings. In fact, two out of three cans were found to contain BPA.
Some companies have moved in the right direction, such as Amy’s Kitchen, Annie’s Homegrown, Hains Celestial Group and even Con Agra have fully transitioned away from BPA and have openly revealed the chemicals they are using as an alternative to it. In addition, BPA-based epoxy resins were not detected in any of the cans tested from these brands. Eden Foods says that it has eliminated the use of BPA-based epoxy liners in 95% of its canned food and it is actively looking for alternatives for the other 5%. No BPA was found in any Eden canned foods.
On the other end of the spectrum, 100% of Campbell’s cans contained BPA-based epoxy, Del Monte came in second with 71% of their products testing positive, General Mills (including Progresso and Green Giant) tested positive 50% of the time. In addition, all of the cans tested from McCormick & Company (Thai Kitchen) and all of the cans tested from Nestle contained BPA.
Empire Company Limited, Goya Foods, Ocean Spray Cranberries, Thai Agrifoods and Vilore Foods tested positive in all of their samples. The report also expressed concern regarding four other coding compounds which were identified from the testing process. Acrylic resins, oleoresin, polyester resins and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) co-polymers.
The researchers discovered multiple formations of these compounds, a number of which are concerning to say the least since the PVC-based co-polymer that is found in 36% of national brands and 18% of retailers’ private label foods is made from hazardous chemicals and known carcinogens. PVC is not considered a safe BPA-alternative and thus, the label of BPA-free does not necessarily mean safe.
While it is clear that we have made some progress in removing BPA from food packaging, it is also clear that we have a long way to go.