Two Out of Three Food Cans Tested Have Toxic BPA in the Linings, New Report Says
Cans Purchased at the Largest Dollar Store Chains Tested Positive for BPA AtEven Higher Rates – Nearly 75%
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A new report released today by six nonprofit organizations that tested nearly 200 food can linings for the toxic chemical, Bisphenol A (BPA) found that two out of three cans tested have the chemical in the lining. BPA is an endocrine-disrupting chemical that negatively impacts our hormonal systems. Evidence suggests it may contribute to a host of harmful health effects including breast and prostate cancer, infertility, type-2 diabetes, obesity, asthma and attention deficit disorder. Other studies have demonstrated the capacity of BPA to migrate into food and then into people, raising concerns about exposures to low, but biologically relevant levels of BPA.
Despite serving communities which are often already exposed to BPA and other toxic chemicals at higher rates, testing revealed that 83 percent of Dollar Tree and Family Dollar private-label cans (five out of six) and 64 percent of Dollar General private-label cans (nine out of 14) were coated with BPA-based epoxy resins.
"While some families are fortunate to have access and means to purchase fresh produce, many communities across America have no choice but to buy canned food lined with toxic BPA,” said Jose Bravo, coordinator of the Campaign for Healthier Solutions. “Some families, live in a food desert where fresh food simply isn’t available, or they can only afford the cheap food sold at dollar stores. These communities, people of color and low-income families are already exposed to toxic chemicals more frequently and at higher levels than the average American. The use of toxic BPA in canned foods means that families will sit down to a double serving of harmful chemicals.”
Data compiled by public interest researchers in 2014 shows discount retailers’ core customer base (42%) is lower-income people who make less than $30,000 a year (A Day Late, A Dollar Short report, pg 14). Forty percent (40%) of customers rely on public assistance of some type. And residents in these communities often have reduced access to quality medical care, fresh and healthy food, and public services, which are critical to overall health and to withstanding chemical exposures. In many of these communities, dollar stores are the only store selling household goods, including food. Forty percent (40%) of sales at dollar stores go toward food products.
Buyer Beware: Toxic BPA & Regrettable Substitutes in the Linings of Canned Food (#BPA #ToxicFoodCans) was conceived and authored by the Breast Cancer Fund; Campaign for Healthier Solutions; Clean Production Action; Ecology Center; Environmental Defence (Canada); and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families’ Mind the Store campaign. (The full report can be downloaded here.)
The report identified and analyzed the interior linings and lids of canned foods containing vegetables, fruits, soups, broth, gravy, milks and beans.
The findings were alarming:
What about the alternatives?
The report found that retailers and national brands that are phasing out BPA could be replacing it with regrettable substitutes. Identifying the safety of BPA alternatives is challenging, given theinsufficient FDA review and approval of packaging additives and highly protected trade secrets in this product sector. However, the report found that:
The report includes numerous recommendations including:
Quotes from the report co-authors:
“Most people in the United States are exposed to BPA every day, largely from food packaging, despite the negative health impacts. It shouldn’t be a buyer beware situation for shoppers everytime they set foot in the canned food aisle,” said Janet Nudelman, director of Program and Policy for the Breast Cancer Fund. “Campbell’s and other 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.”
"Food manufacturers refused to tell us what chemicals were in their cans, so we reverse engineered and tested them ourselves," said Jeff Gearhart, MS, the Ecology Center’s HealthyStuff.org research director. "Since they can’t hide these chemicals from consumers anymore, perhaps they will be more motivated to use safer materials.”
"This new report should be a wake-up call for grocery and big box retailers across the nation," said Mike Schade, Mind the Store campaign director with Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families. "We found 62 percent of Kroger's cans in the investigation tested positive for BPA. As the largestgrocery chain in the country, Kroger should be leading the way by developing a clear public timeframe for phasing out and safely substituting BPA in all of their canned food."
"BPA-free doesn't mean a can lining is safe, as the substitute could itself be harmful. That is why we are asking companies to take the GreenScreen Challengeand work with us to demonstrate the chemical safety of their can liners," said Clean Production Action’s Beverley Thorpe, who helps companies understand the value of the GreenScreen® for Safer Chemicals as an essential tool for replacing toxic chemicals with safe alternatives.
"The fact that many food cans contain endocrine-disrupting BPA means that Canadians are likelyeating food contaminated with the hormone-mimicking chemical,” said Maggie MacDonald, Toxics Program manager with Environmental Defence. “This is very disconcerting, as Canadianswho rely on canned foods in their diets are at continuous risk of developing serious health problems.”