Toxic BPA in Canned Food Down 30 Percent Since 2015, But It’s Still Widespread, Study Finds

38% of Canned Goods Tested Positive for BPA
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The endocrine-disrupting chemical bisphenol-A, best known as BPA, was detected in close to forty percent of samples of canned foods purchased from various locations across the U.S., a recent investigation by the Center for Environmental Health revealed.

Thirty-eight percent of canned goods purchased in eleven states from major markets including the nation’s largest grocery chains, Kroger and Albertsons, and discount stores Dollar Tree and 99 Cents Only, tested positive for the toxic chemical, according to the CEH report,Kicking the Can: Major retailers still selling canned food with BPA.” Samples were taken in varying categories from soups and beans to canned tuna and vegetables. Thirty-three percent of Kroger’s private label samples tested positive for BPA as did 36 percent of Albertsons’.

While the findings are significantly down from a 2015 report that found close to 70 percent of cans were lined with BPA, it’s still an issue, particularly the items in dollar stores, the CEH notes, which are often the only food markets in low-income communities known as food deserts. About 23 million Americans live in food deserts — areas with limited access to supermarkets and fresh food — and an estimated fifty percent of those are in low-income communities where fast food and quick market options are prevalent.

The CEH notes separate studies that have found higher than average levels of BPA in low income community residents.

While some food manufacturers like The Campbell Soup Company have voluntarily removed BPA from their offerings, the FDA says the current levels of BPA used in food can linings is safe for human consumption. But many health experts disagree. WebMD points to several animal studies that have found links between BPA exposure and health issues like heart disease, neurological disorders, particularly in young children, and an increased risk of cancer. More than ninety percent of Americans tested for BPA had some level of the chemical in their body.

BPA has also been shown to be damaging even at low exposure levels.

“These companies have known for years that BPA is a serious health threat, yet too many of their food cans still contain this dangerous chemical,” Caroline Cox, Research Director at CEH, said in a statement. “Americans deserve safe food for their children and families. It is past time for grocery retailers and dollar stores to end this health threat and develop safer alternatives for canned foods.”

Despite the move away from BPA, there’s been little evaluation of alternatives, including PVC and BPS (bisphenol-S). One study found that BPS may be even more harmful than BPA.

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.