Several nonprofit groups have released a report raising new concerns about the presence of bisphenol A (BPA) in the interior linings and lids found in two out of three of the nearly 200 canned foods tested. BPA is described in the report as an endocrine-disrupting chemical that negatively impacts the hormonal system, contributing to “a host of harmful health effects,” such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, infertility, type 2 diabetes, obesity, asthma, and attention deficit disorder.
The report is a joint effort of the Breast Cancer Fund, Campaign for Healthier Solutions, Clean Production Action, Ecology Center, Mind the Store Campaign, and Environmental Defence of Canada.
Alternatives to BPA used in some canned foods can also be a risk to human health, according to the report. Can linings may contain acrylic resins, plant-based resins, polyester precursors and additives, phenols other than BPA, PVC-based coatings, and miscellaneous compounds.
Janet Nudelman, director of program and policy for the Breast Cancer Fund, says that major national brands “need to get BPA out of food can linings and fully disclose the identity and safety of any BPA alternatives they’re using. Consumers deserve protection from the toxic effects of this hormonally active chemical and the likelihood of exposure to unsafe toxic alternatives.”
Campbell Soup Co. recently announced that it is eliminating BPA in its North American cans by mid-2017, and Del Monte Foods has also said it will convert to non-BPA packaging beginning with its fresh pack production in 2016. Several companies, including Amy’s Kitchen, Annie’s Homegrown, Hain Celestial Group, and ConAgra have fully transitioned from BPA and are disclosing the BPA alternatives that are used. Retailers are also responding to the issue, with Whole Foods not currently accepting any new canned items with BPA in the lining material, according to the report.
Scientific consensus has not been reached, however, about the risks to human health imposed by the level of BPA in canned foods. Marianna Naum, PhD, Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine at the FDA, says that BPA “remains legal to use in the lining of cans as well as certain other food-contact applications. FDA continues to review all relevant data bearing on the safety of BPA and, in accord with experts and regulatory bodies around the world, has consistently found BPA to be safe when used in conformance with authorizing regulation.”
The Endocrine Society contends that endocrine-disrupting chemicals “continue to be a source of known and potential concern for the health and well-being of consumers,” and the society endorsed a proposal that companies should label the presence of BPA on their products, including food cans.