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BPA and Thanksgiving: Enjoy Your Dinner with No Fear

Thanksgiving is a time for reflection and thanks – a time to be thankful for the bountiful blessings of life, family and home.  It is especially memorable for the festivities and memorable celebrations where the meal is the special guest and is welcomed by family and friends.

If you’re like my family, Thanksgiving and all other large dinners are meant to be enjoyed and not to be feared.  We’ve never been afraid of food.  However, news of a recent report might cause some to ask questions and keep many from enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  A new report by the Breast Cancer Fund is yet another of the many generated to cause unnecessary concern for families who just want to enjoy a safe, nutritious and memorable dinner this Thanksgiving.

This report, similar to others over the past year, alleges that BPA will come as an unwelcome guest bringing along with it long term chronic disease and illness.  Not true.  What is true is that BPA can be detected in many of the canned food products we’ve all come to enjoy at Thanksgiving and also throughout the entire year.  This report confirms that BPA can be detected in many of the canned products served along with the traditional turkey.  The report would lead anyone to believe the levels are so high that the foods are dangerous to eat.

The Science on BPA

You may not be aware, but there is a recent study by the CDC and the FDA that offers definitive evidence that the highest levels of BPA exposure from canned foods did not lead to any detectable amounts in the blood stream.  This is important because it actually debunks the old myth that BPA exposure through the diet is harmful.  This and other research has consistently shown that BPA is not harmful as this report and many articles in the media would lead you to believe.

We should applaud the Breast Cancer Fund for conducting this study – research is an integral part to expand our knowledge base regarding chemical safety and to better understand any possible health effects they may cause.  It also adds to the growing body of research that is used by regulatory and health agencies across the globe to evaluate risk.  This is a small study and given the current larger body of scientific evidence supporting the safe use of BPA as a food packaging compound, I would think this report is yet another attempt to cause undue cause and concern over food and especially when food is such an integral and welcomed guest.

BPA is critical to food safety; it is used to protect food – not to harm food.  It serves as a protective bond and helps to keep out other unwanted guests (microorganisms) that can result in a foodborne illness.  The CDC estimates that over 3,000 individuals die annually from foodborne illness yet not one has been caused by a food packaged with BPA.

Experts agree that it is virtually impossible to come in contact with an unsafe amount of BPA through our day-to-day living activities and that should give you confidence to enjoy your Thanksgiving.  Enjoy your food and be thankful for a safe and abundant food supply.

© Food Safety News
  • Jeff

    How can you say there is nothing to worry about from BPA? While the effects of it are still largely unknown, there have been a whole series of studies over the last few years that indicate BPA could be harmful in a whole host of ways. A single study is never enough to offer definitive evidence about a controversial topic. Furthermore, the ‘recent study’ link does not actually link to the actual study.

  • DJ

    The IFIC says BPA is safe and beneficial? So, now I know I will make even more effort to avoid food cans and packaging, plastic and other substances that may contain BPA. Too bad it isn’t labeled to warn me that there may be BPA contamination.

  • George Karatza

    BPA Lurks in Canned Soups and Drinks
    By ANAHAD O’CONNOR
    Is there BPA in your canned food?A new study by Harvard researchers may provide another reason to skip the canned pumpkin and cranberry sauce this Thanksgiving. People who ate one serving of canned food daily over the course of five days, the study found, had significantly elevated levels — more than a tenfold increase — of bisphenol-A, or BPA, a substance that lines most food and drink cans.
    Most of the research on BPA, a so-called endocrine disruptor that can mimic the body’s hormones, has focused on its use in plastic bottles. It has been linked in some studies to a higher risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity, and health officials in the United States have come under increasing pressure to regulate it. Some researchers, though, counter that its reputation as a health threat to people is exaggerated.
    The new study, which was published Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association, is the first to measure the amounts that are ingested when people eat food that comes directly out of a can, in this case soup. The spike in BPA levels that the researchers recorded is one of the highest seen in any study.
    “We cannot say from our research what the consequences are,” said Karin Michels, an associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard Medical School and an author of the study. “But the very high levels that we found are very surprising. We would have never expected a thousand-percent increase in their levels of BPA.”
    As part of the study, Dr. Michels and her colleagues recruited a group of 75 staff members and students at the Harvard School of Public Health, split them into two groups, and then followed them for two weeks. During the first week, one group ate a 12-ounce serving of vegetarian soup from a common brand of canned soup every day for five days; the other group, meanwhile, ate 12 ounces of vegetarian soup made from fresh ingredients each day. Then, after a two-day soup-free “wash out” period, the groups switched roles and were followed for five more days. At the end of each five-day period, the subjects provided urine samples.
    Dr. Michels noted that all the participants were fed amounts of soup that were smaller than what people probably would consume on their own. “One serving of soup is a not a lot,” she said. “They were actually telling us that that wasn’t even enough for their lunch.”
    In general, most studies have found that urinary BPA levels in typical adults average somewhere around 2 micrograms per liter. That was roughly the levels the Harvard researchers found in the subjects after a week of eating the soup made from fresh ingredients. After eating the canned soup, though, their levels rose above 20 micrograms per liter, a 1,221 percent increase.
    Dr. Michels said that her co-authors, including one researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who regularly analyzes BPA levels in studies, were stunned when the results came back. “She called me and said something’s funny with these levels,” she said. “She didn’t know what she was looking at.”
    Dr. Michels said that the increases in BPA were most likely temporary and would go down after hours or days. “We don’t know what health effects these transient increases in BPA may have,” she added
    But she also pointed out that the findings were probably applicable to other canned goods, including soda and juices. “The sodas are concerning, because some people have a habit of consuming a lot of them throughout the day,” she said. “My guess is that with other canned foods, you would see similar increases in bisphenol-A. But we only tested soups, so we wouldn’t be able to predict the absolute size of the increase.”
    Many companies began phasing out BPA in baby bottles and other plastic food containers in recent years to ease public anxieties, but it is still widely used in the linings of metal cans because it helps prevent corrosion and is resistant to high heat during the sterilization process.
    “I don’t know how important bisphenol-A is to the lining of these metal cans,” Dr. Michels said. “Can you make the lining to protect the contents of the can without bisphenol-A? If this is the case, then we would suggest taking it out, because then you would eliminate the problem

  • Alice

    This “study” is pure unadulterated lies. Somebody at FSN or elsewhere is either smoking some funny stuff or is taking a kickback from the canned goods industry people. How can you think that we are stupid, ignorant, unread people — especially those who take the time to subscribe to and actually read your FSN?
    Alice LaChapelle

  • Michael Bulger

    CDC on BPA: “Human health effects from bisphenol A at low environmental doses or at biomonitored levels from low environmental exposures are unknown.”
    “Reproductive and neurodevelopmental effects of bisphenol A at low doses in animals, including environmental doses potentially relevant to humans, have been the subject of ongoing scientific reviews and study (European Commission, 2002; Gray et al., 2004; NTP, 2001; NTP-CERHR, 2007 and 2008; vom Saal and Hughes, 2005 Welshons et al., 2006; Witorsch, 2002). Examples of recent animal studies which suggest possible low dose effects include altered development of the fetal prostate and mammary gland, inhibition of postnatal testosterone production, and changes in neurodevelopment (Akingbemi et al., 2004; Leranth et al., 2008; NTP-CERHR, 2007; Timms et al., 2005).”
    http://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport/data_tables/BisphenolA_ChemicalInformation.html
    “Bisphenol A (BPA), a component of epoxy resins and polycarbonates, may have potential reproductive toxicity. General population exposure to BPA may occur through ingestion of foods in contact with BPA-containing materials. CDC scientists found bisphenol A in more than 90% of the urine samples representative of the U.S. population.”
    http://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport/executive_summary.html
    FDA on BPA:
    “FDA is taking reasonable steps to reduce human exposure to BPA in the food supply.”
    http://www.fda.gov/newsevents/publichealthfocus/ucm064437.htm
    It looks like the CDC and FDA are still saying “unknown”. They also appear a bit more removed from the business of selling BPA.

  • c.f.

    My first reaction was shock.
    This is a total reversal from the first article.
    The same thoughts as those expressed by Alice.
    FSN credibility?

  • allin58

    I find it interesting that all the comments so far show no data, or links to data, that show BPA is harmful. One commenter even copies an entire article that basically says they can measure BPA content, “We cannot say from our research what the consequences are,” so what’s the point.

  • cf

    what is the REAL STORY HERE?

  • Rosemary Fifield

    The only way to enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner without fear is to avoid the canned ingredients and stick to fresh or frozen! That way we can all avoid BPA, because it’s NOT harmless. Anyone who has read up on its history knows it mimics estrogen. How sad that a food safety site pushes IFIC balogna.

  • Teresa Green

    The FDA has stated the following about BPA:
    “At this interim stage, FDA shares the perspective of the National Toxicology Program that recent studies provide reason for some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. FDA also recognizes substantial uncertainties with respect to the overall interpretation of these studies and their potential implications for human health effects of BPA exposure. These uncertainties relate to issues such as the routes of exposure employed, the lack of consistency among some of the measured endpoints or results between studies, the relevance of some animal models to human health, differences in the metabolism (and detoxification) of and responses to BPA both at different ages and in different species, and limited or absent dose response information for some studies.
    “FDA is pursuing additional studies to address the uncertainties in the findings, seeking public input and input from other expert agencies, and supporting a shift to a more robust regulatory framework for oversight of BPA to be able to respond quickly, if necessary, to protect the public.”
    In the context of this stance by FDA, to tell your readers that BPA is safe is both misleading and irresponsible.

  • mrothschild

    Here’s yet another view, from Trevor Butterworth in Forbes:
    Breast Cancer Fund Scary Thanksgiving Study is a Turkey
    This Thanksgiving, the activists at San Francisco’s Breast Cancer Fund don’t want you to eat – deep breath – Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup, Campbell’s Turkey Gravy, Carnation Evaporated Milk (by Nestle), Del Monte Fresh Cut Sweet Corn (Cream Style), Green Giant Cut Green Beans (by General Mills), and Libby’s Pumpkin (by Nestle).
    Why? Because they believe the levels of bisphenol A (BPA) that migrate from the can linings are a health hazard as they equal the amount of BPA given to animals in experiments where adverse health effects were found.
    But believing something doesn’t make it true – not only because this “study” fails the test of the FDA’s research – or the European Union’s Food Safety Authority – on this issue, but because it ignores basic scientific principles. Here’s why:
    The first thing you have to understand is that the Breast Cancer Fund is comparing apples with oranges. BPA is metabolized and detoxified when it is ingested in food. There are no adverse health effects (unless the dose is massive – far greater than anyone might possibly ingest in any realistic situation). On the other hand, the animal studies the Breast Cancer Fund cites injected BPA directly into the blood stream, where it bypassed the detoxification process. In other words, it’s deceptive to say – “OMG, similar levels, similar danger!
    In fact, one can go much further and say the levels of BPA the Breast Cancer Fund found in these cans is irrelevant.
    We know, thanks to toxicologists at the University of Würzburg, (Wolfgang Völkel et al.) that if you feed a known quantity of BPA to humans, and track its path through the body through isotopic labeling (perhaps most easily understood as a kind of radioactive tracing), you find that within 24 hours up to 100 percent has been eliminated from the body in urine, with much of that happening within five to seven hours. In other words, when it comes to BPA in food, whatever goes in, very quickly comes out.
    Second, we know that in its journey from food to urine, at least 98 percent of this BPA is deactivated (typically, between 98.8 percent and 99.8 percent), meaning it ceases to have any estrogenic capacity. Why? Basic chemistry: The BPA gains a sugar molecule in the gut and liver. The Breast Cancer Fund simply ignores this. But wait – is there any possibility that a tiny amount of active BPA might make its way into the body where it might reach tissues with sensitive receptors?
    Well, third – and, arguably, most important, we know the following, thanks to a recent EPA-funded feeding study by CDC, FDA and Battelle researchers: When humans where fed a diet of canned food for 24 hours, and have their urine continuously monitored, they ended up, on average, ingesting significantly more BPA than the general population does on day-to-day basis. At the same time, continuous blood sampling of these volunteers revealed that active BPA was below the limits of detection (1.3 nanomoles) using the most sensitive monitoring technology available anywhere on the planet.
    This directly contradicts the spin in the Breast Cancer Fund’s press release from William Goodson, M.D., Senior Clinical Research Scientist at California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute: “We know from recent research,” he says, “that a BPA meal creates a spike of this estrogenic chemical in the blood.” (As I reported earlier on Forbes, Goodsen’s own scare study on BPA simply involved introducing massive amounts of active BPA into a petri dish of breast cells – and even that failed to turn the cells cancerous).
    What the research from, among others, the country’s foremost expert on monitoring chemicals in the blood (Antonia Calafat of the CDC) actually shows is a spike in total BPA in urine, of which a tiny amount is active; there is no “spike” in active (i.e., “estrogenic”) BPA in the blood at any point after eating a meal.
    read more at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/trevorbutterworth/2011/11/16/breast-cancer-fund-scary-thanksgiving-study-is-a-turkey/

  • Mary Rothschild

    Here’s yet another view, from Trevor Butterworth in Forbes:
    Breast Cancer Fund Scary Thanksgiving Study is a Turkey
    This Thanksgiving, the activists at San Francisco’s Breast Cancer Fund don’t want you to eat – deep breath – Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup, Campbell’s Turkey Gravy, Carnation Evaporated Milk (by Nestle), Del Monte Fresh Cut Sweet Corn (Cream Style), Green Giant Cut Green Beans (by General Mills), and Libby’s Pumpkin (by Nestle).
    Why? Because they believe the levels of bisphenol A (BPA) that migrate from the can linings are a health hazard as they equal the amount of BPA given to animals in experiments where adverse health effects were found.
    But believing something doesn’t make it true – not only because this “study” fails the test of the FDA’s research – or the European Union’s Food Safety Authority – on this issue, but because it ignores basic scientific principles. Here’s why:
    The first thing you have to understand is that the Breast Cancer Fund is comparing apples with oranges. BPA is metabolized and detoxified when it is ingested in food. There are no adverse health effects (unless the dose is massive – far greater than anyone might possibly ingest in any realistic situation). On the other hand, the animal studies the Breast Cancer Fund cites injected BPA directly into the blood stream, where it bypassed the detoxification process. In other words, it’s deceptive to say – “OMG, similar levels, similar danger!
    In fact, one can go much further and say the levels of BPA the Breast Cancer Fund found in these cans is irrelevant.
    We know, thanks to toxicologists at the University of Würzburg, (Wolfgang Völkel et al.) that if you feed a known quantity of BPA to humans, and track its path through the body through isotopic labeling (perhaps most easily understood as a kind of radioactive tracing), you find that within 24 hours up to 100 percent has been eliminated from the body in urine, with much of that happening within five to seven hours. In other words, when it comes to BPA in food, whatever goes in, very quickly comes out.
    Second, we know that in its journey from food to urine, at least 98 percent of this BPA is deactivated (typically, between 98.8 percent and 99.8 percent), meaning it ceases to have any estrogenic capacity. Why? Basic chemistry: The BPA gains a sugar molecule in the gut and liver. The Breast Cancer Fund simply ignores this. But wait – is there any possibility that a tiny amount of active BPA might make its way into the body where it might reach tissues with sensitive receptors?
    Well, third – and, arguably, most important, we know the following, thanks to a recent EPA-funded feeding study by CDC, FDA and Battelle researchers: When humans where fed a diet of canned food for 24 hours, and have their urine continuously monitored, they ended up, on average, ingesting significantly more BPA than the general population does on day-to-day basis. At the same time, continuous blood sampling of these volunteers revealed that active BPA was below the limits of detection (1.3 nanomoles) using the most sensitive monitoring technology available anywhere on the planet.
    This directly contradicts the spin in the Breast Cancer Fund’s press release from William Goodson, M.D., Senior Clinical Research Scientist at California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute: “We know from recent research,” he says, “that a BPA meal creates a spike of this estrogenic chemical in the blood.” (As I reported earlier on Forbes, Goodsen’s own scare study on BPA simply involved introducing massive amounts of active BPA into a petri dish of breast cells – and even that failed to turn the cells cancerous).
    What the research from, among others, the country’s foremost expert on monitoring chemicals in the blood (Antonia Calafat of the CDC) actually shows is a spike in total BPA in urine, of which a tiny amount is active; there is no “spike” in active (i.e., “estrogenic”) BPA in the blood at any point after eating a meal.
    read more at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/trevorbutterworth/2011/11/16/breast-cancer-fund-scary-thanksgiving-study-is-a-turkey/