By Dev Gowda, Illinois PIRG Education Fund Toxics Advocate and Tara O’Gorman, Illinois PIRG Education Fund Toxics Intern
We’re all told to watch out for BPA in drinking bottles and baby products. But how about BPA in the cans that contain our food? A recent study by Center for Environmental Health (CEH) reveals that the toxic chemical BPA is readily found in canned foods. BPAs are often used in the liners of canned food to keep the aluminum from interacting with the food.
CEH’s report, “Kicking the Can? Major retailers still selling canned foods with BPA,” finds that of the cans tested from four retailers, 38% tested positive for BPA. BPA was found in 52% of the cans tested in the store 99 Cents Only, 33% of Kroger and Dollar Tree cans tested, and a whopping 36% of Albertson’s cans tested. Some of the cans with BPAs were mixed vegetables, cream of mushroom soup, and Campbell’s beef gravy.
BPA, or bisphenol A, is a chemical used to harden plastic. BPA has been linked to birth defects, breast cancer, prostate cancer, reproductive health problems and other serious health conditions. BPA is also harmful because it can imitate the body’s own hormones.
BPA is found in hard plastics such as water bottles, baby bottles, and dental fillings. It is also found in household devices such as cell phones that are used multiple times daily.
The study also found toxic BPA alternatives in cans. The toxic alternative PVC was found in 19% of the cans tested. In 2011, scientists from the FDA stated that canned foods are our “primary source” of BPA exposure.
Federal regulations to aren’t effective enough. Consumers can better protect themselves by buying frozen or fresh food, or buying cans that have a BPA free logo on it. Consumers should also urge their local grocery stores to go BPA-free.
Illinois PIRG Education Fund is calling on retailers to eliminate and safely substitute BPA from all canned foods, and in the meantime, label all chemicals used in can liners. Consumers can check out the Kicking the Can guide before buying canned goods.
Take action today by signing our petition here calling on Albertsons, owner of Safeway, Shaw's, Jewel-Osco, and other grocery chains to remove BPA from their cans.