We all grew up on Campbell’s Soup – or at least I did. I have fond memories of mindlessly gulping down their tomato, chicken noodle, chicken gumbo, cream of broccoli, cream of mushroom, and alphabet soup.
But what I didn’t know, was that these cans contain something more toxic than the ingredients listed in the actual soup itself. That chemical would be Bisphenol A (BPA).
BPA is a chemical that is used to line food cans and has been linked to cancer, infertility, early puberty and many other health problems – that isn’t something you want to be feeding your kids, now, isn’t it?
BPA in canned food is pretty much unavoidable, unless you research companies you buy from, or do your own home-canning.
In 1988, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defined safe BPA consumption levels as 50 micrograms or less per kilogram of body weight per day. Since then, hundreds of scientific papers have found detrimental biological effects of BPA at levels lower than the EPA standard. Recognizing the new scientific literature on BPA, the European Food Safety Authority recently updated its standards for safe BPA intake to 4 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day – 46 micrograms less than the EPA standard.
In lab experiments, rodents experience toxicity at 2 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day. According to Jennifer Hartle, postdoctoral researcher at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, humans may metabolize BPA differently. Safe levels for BPA exposure should be in line with these low-dose toxicity findings to protect vulnerable populations like children.
A new report released just a few days ago showed that 100% of Campbell’s cans tested positive for BPA. The report, called “Buyer Beware: Toxic BPA & Regrettable Substitutes in the Linings of Canned Food,” called out several companies, like Kroger and Campbell’s, to crack down on the BPA situation.
And for this reason, Campbell Soup Co, has finally made the responsible decision (you know, after being one of the largest soup makers in the world), to completely switch to BPA-FREE cans by the middle of 2017. They are going to be using cans made with linings from acrylic or polyester materials, which will first be released in the United States and Canada through 2017.
The Buyer Beware report tested over 192 food can linings, with over two-thirds of them containing the harmful BPA chemical. Not only Kroger and Campbell’s, but 71% of Del Monte cans, and 50% of General Mills cans tested positive for BPA. The worst was cans from discount marketers like Dollar Tree and Family Dollar, which tested positive 83% of the time.
According to the report, the most dangerous canned foods were broth, gravy, and canned milk. Those least likely to test positive for BPA were canned veggies like corn and peas.
So how can you avoid BPA and canned foods altogether? That would, technically, be the smartest and healthiest move. Opt for making your own canned goods, or if you want soup, make a big batch and then freeze it in mason jars and use as needed. When I used to eat lots of cooked food, I would do this routinely (especially when I was in university).
Try eating fresh fruit and vegetables, or use frozen, instead of canned. If you want to eat beans, soak and cook them yourself. Experiment, and try your best to stay away from the canned-goods section – you’ll be doing your body a huge favour!