Photo courtesy of Green Kozi via Flickr.
Whilst you worry about the content of your food, now there’s reason to also be concerned about what’s in its container. Particularly, most cans and bottles contain BPA, a chemical that’s been linked to some dastardly health issues.
Bisphenol A, also known as BPA, is a chemical present in almost all canned goods, especially in the US. The chemical has been known to “leach” from the container into foods and liquids, and has consequentially been found present in 93 percent of Americans’ bodies in small amounts.
As a component of many plastic products and the lining of cans, BPA has become an essential ingredient in epoxy coating over the years, in spite of health concerns.
Is BPA harmful?[contextly_auto_sidebar id=”6PoQU4aQPrM8UKYoGl6NX2I4u7fVibRd”]BPA is a synthetic compound which, in large (and potentially small) doses can act as estrogen, blocking or stimulating the body’s hormone systems, and impacting brain development, nervous systems, and reproductive systems of humans and animals.
Studies have linked the endocrine disrupter to breast cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses. It’s been banned from most baby products for fear of developmental issues.
Even so, there doesn’t seem to be a consensus overall on just how harmful BPA is to adult humans. The FDA says current levels are safe, a claim corroborated by some science, but not all.
What government says: The FDA and the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) have upheld the belief that presently known levels of exposure to BPA are safe, there being no solid evidence to the contrary. The EPA agrees it is not a health concern.
What environmental scientists say: Experts from The Endocrine Society have cited the adverse effects of BPA, and been vocal in their criticism of the FDA for “neglecting key research” in their decision-making. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has echoed this sentiment.
There are arguably credible studies to support the claim that BPA at its current rate of use isn’t harmful. But there’s also evidence to the contrary — making for a confusion contradiction for concerned consumers.
Where is BPA?
According to a study by the EWG, less than two thirds of 252 brands surveyed use BPA-free can products. And even of those claiming BPA-free, trace amounts were found in linings.
According to EWG lead researcher Renee Sharp, as reported by the Guardian, this means that “If you go to a store and buy a can, it is likely to have BPA.”
Essentially, there is very little transparency on BPA and the levels at which it exists in canned goods and other products. The result? Even if a person wanted to avoid it, it would be very difficult to do so, as federal regulations don’t require brands to disclose BPA-based linings.
Here’s a list of (allegedly) BPA-free products, for inquiring minds. They do, unfortunately, come at a higher price.
Will things change?
It’s difficult to know what to believe in regards to the science behind BPA. Groups like the EWG have been accused of inciting an unnecessary health scare — and since the EPA, FDA, and EFSA are typically credible, the risks could indeed be overblown.
On the other hand, a lot of money is at stake in the canning industry. If making the switch to BPA-free products could jeapordize that, government agencies might indeed have incentive to downplay the issue.
Whatever the case, contradictory findings should at the very least be cause for more research and clarification. It might be nice as well if the public were kept informed that their cans have more than just soup in them.