Chemicals in canned food liners


BPA, the chemical found in hard polycarbonate plastic water bottles is also in the liners of canned food.

I’ve noticed a big change at the gym I work out of – those colourful hard plastic water bottles have become an endangered species, due to the risk of bisphenol A (BPA) leaching into the water.

Everyone appears to be switching to the stainless-steel variety, which seems to me to be a much better choice. Many families have stopped using baby bottles and sippy cups made from #7 plastic to feed their infants and toddlers.

Europe has banned the substance in items for children under the age of 3, and Health Canada indicated that it is adding BPA to its toxic substance list.

When huge outdoor-gear companies like Mountain Equipment Coop listen to their customers' concerns and decide to stop selling the offending water bottles, and the companies that make them (like Nalgene), suddenly lose very large orders, they take notice and change.

Nalgene, which always did have alternatives to the no. 7 lexan water bottles, is now going out of its way to promote BPA-free alternatives, whereas in the past they tended to dismiss the concerns as baseless. We reached the tipping point, where concerned consumers have made BPA in water bottles unsellable. Congratulations, everyone!!!

This is the way positive change can happen – consumers have more power than governments to change corporate practice by choosing where they spend their money. Now we need to do this on the food front.

A quick review for those that may have missed my earlier articles on BPA in water bottles.

Bisphenol A is a xeno-estrogen and therefore an endocrine disruptor, meaning it is a chemical that mimics estrogen in the body, thereby messing up our normal hormone messaging. Synthetic xeno-estrogens are linked to breast cancer and uterine cancer in women, decreased testosterone levels in men, and are particularly devastating to babies and young children.

BPA has even been linked to insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes. For more of the science on the effects of BPA on our endocrine system etc. see these studies: Environmental Health Perspectives Journal.

So, have we resolved the BPA problem? Far from it. It is still being used in the resin that lines canned food.

Liquid infant formula sold in cans would be the most problematic, as any BPA leached would have a bigger relative effect on a small baby. According to a recent Globe and Mail article, Health Canada tested 21 cans of liquid formula and found every one to be positive for BPA in amounts ranging from 2.3ppb to 10.6ppb.

If you can't breastfeed and you no longer want to use canned liquid infant formula, I highly recommend you purchase the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, and use her infant formula recipes located near the back of the book.

Your baby will thrive on these formulas much better than on canned or powdered formula. And the book is a wonderful cookbook full of nourishing recipes for you and your family.

Foods are heated in the can to destroy microbes, and the heating process causes the BPA to leach into the food.

Acid foods like canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and apple juice leach more BPA into the food than non-acidic foods. Examples of canned foods that tested positive for BPA in the Globe and Mail/CTV study included:

  • Hunts Tomato Sauce
  • Chef Boyardee
  • Mini Beef Ravioli
  • Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup
  • Allen's Apple Juice
  • Unico Tomatoes
  • Molson Dry Beer
  • Labatts Ice Beer,
  • Heinz Tomato Juice
  • ZoodlesBeans
  • Beans with pork and tomato sauce
  • Green Giant Cream Styled Corn
  • Del Monte peas and carrots

All the food companies involves said that they felt the BPA levels were too low to be of concern, just as the water bottle companies had stated previously.

Replacing canned food with fresh food will improve one's health, not just because of the reduced exposure to BPA, but also because fresh food contains vitamins, minerals and enzymes that get destroyed in the heating process of canning.

Sorry if I sound like a broken record, but to be healthy we need to eat REAL food, not processed food that comes from a factory.

Please do keep the comments coming!

Related tips
Which plastic water bottles don’t leach chemicals?
Plastic water bottle update
Processed food is taking over our supermarkets
The soy controversy
Our toxic body burden

Mittelstaedt, Martin The hidden chemical in cans The Globe and Mail, May 29, 2008

Chek, Paul; How to
Eat, Move and Be Healthy!
Chek Institute, San Diego, CA, 2004.

Doheny, Brenda;
  Nalgene Plastics May be Harmful
 online at Oregan State Daily

“Bisphenol A Exposure Causes Meiotic Aneuploidy in the Female Mouse”
, Vol 14, 546-553, 1 April 2003.

vom Saal, Frederick and Hughes, Claude;
 ”An Extensive New Literature Concerning Low-Dose Effects of Bisphenol A
Shows the Need for a New Risk Assessment”
 Environmental Health
Vol. 113, No. 8, August 2005.

Copyright 2008 Vreni Gurd

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  1. John said,

    July 13, 2008 @ 11:30 pm

    How long do you people expect to live!?!??! Are you trying to be immortal? You are worried about beer cans, and then you go get into your SUV and spew all kinds of crap into the air. Stop the HYPOCRICY already.

    I give the human race about 50 years, beer cans or no, BPA or no.

    Get REAL.

  2. Ann Teliczan said,

    July 29, 2008 @ 11:03 pm

    I always look forward to your entries. They are well thought out and make total sense to me. I’m thinking of canning all the fresh tomatoes I can this summer in glass jars so I can use them this winter instead of buying them in the grocery store. I just want to be proactive about my health where it makes sense to do so and the way I eat seems to be a very obvious place to start.

  3. Vreni said,

    July 29, 2008 @ 11:21 pm

    Sounds like a great idea! Have fun! 🙂

  4. Peter Shamray said,

    December 15, 2008 @ 1:05 am

    Like the Canary in the coal mine, a gallon of canned tomatoes poured into an aluminum pan, and heated in an electric oven released toxins into our kitchen killing our two pet Lovebirds. I suspect BPA.

  5. Vreni said,

    December 15, 2008 @ 2:36 am

    WOW, that’s awful. I am so sorry …

    If you had said Teflon pan, I would not have been surprised, as Teflon when heated is known to kill birds, but I didn’t think aluminum would have that effect. Clearly something else is at work here. I suppose BPA may be a suspect. Heat certainly is problematic for BPA, but I didn’t know it would vapourize. Did you recently clean your oven with an oven cleaner that may put off fumes??

    What a horrible way to lose your pets. I imagine it must have been very hard on you and your family. I hope you are all okay.

  6. Vreni said,

    February 21, 2010 @ 1:50 pm

    Just to let you all know about a recent Consumer Reports study about BPA in canned food liners. This was done in Nov. 09.

  7. Chloe said,

    April 15, 2010 @ 2:30 pm

    I have owned birds for years, and willt ell you that I keep my birds out of the kitchen at all times. This is not because of BPA. Molecules of metal eleased fromt he pans themselves (when hot) are death to birds. Also, when cooking oils get hot, those can evaporate too, and will coat the lungs of a bird. BPA killing birds after one exposure? Think a minute: aren’t hundreds of plastic bird toys sold every day?

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