The Independent recently found that the vast majority of popular canned foods in the UK use the increasingly controversial chemical Bisphenol-A, otherwise known as BPA, in their packaging.
BPA is an industrial chemical used to manufacture a range of plastic products, including water bottles and the lining of food and beverage cans. The chemical is now also found in an overwhelming majority of Americans, and a recent study found traces of it in 90 percent of infant cord blood.
The paper’s study found that BPA was used in the lining of 18 out of 20 best-selling canned food items including Heinz baked beans, Napolina tomatoes, and John West and Princes fish, as well as in tuna and sardines cans from major UK retailers Tesco, Sainsbury and Asda.
A growing body of research has linked BPA exposure to disruptions in the endocrine system, an issue that can cause reproductive, neurological, and behavioral problems. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to make a final decision on whether low level exposure to BPA is a threat to public health, though it did announce in January that it has “some concern” about the chemical. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is also conducting a public health review.
According to The Independent, Britain’s Food Standards Agency (FDA) has given the chemical “the all-clear,” but the “American U-turn” on BPA safety caused the European community to reconsider its stance.
While both EFSA and the FDA continue to review BPA exposure, some companies are phasing out the use of the chemical on their own.
Heinz is among those preemptively acting on the issue. “Although UK and European food authorities have stated that minute levels of BPA in can coatings are safe, Heinz remains committed to moving to alternatives. For beans, pasta, and many soups a protective coating is only applied to the can ends which would not provide any trace of BPA or would be at the limit of detection of a few parts per billion. This compares with the safe legal limit of 600 parts per billion. Heinz continues to advance research into alternative coatings in response to consumer opinion but safety remains our first priority before making any changes,” the company said in a statement to The Independent.
A number of states in the US have also taken action while the FDA conducts its review. Wisconsin recently banned BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups, joining a growing list of state and local governments with similar bans. Washington, Minnesota, Connecticut, the City of Chicago and Suffolk County, NY also have BPA bans on the books, as does Canada.
BPA legislation is also being considered in Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.
For more information on limiting BPA exposure for, see the U.S. Health and Human Services site. http://www.hhs.gov/safety/bpa/