Organic Canned Foods Loaded with BPA

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist May 22, 2010

The latest tests for BPA levels in canned foods are very unsettling.    BPA, if you remember, is a chemical that mimics estrogen in the body, causing numerous health problems.   It is used extensively in the plastics industry.  In the food industry, BPA is used in the lining of food and drink cans (including soda!).   Alarmingly, cancer and infertility have both been linked with BPA.

The National Workgroup for Safe Markets has recently reported that canned foods, many of which are labeled  “organic”,  were found to have an average of 77 parts per billion (ppb) of BPA, almost 5 times higher than what the FDA found testing BPA levels in canned food back in 1996.    92% of the samples tested contained measurable levels of BPA.

The report, aptly titled No Silver Lining, found no link between the age of the product and BPA levels.   Moreover, price, quality, or nutrition value of the product had absolutely no bearing in the levels of BPA detected.   Therefore, organic canned foods were found to be just as likely to be loaded with BPA as cheap nonorganic ones.

This report puts additional pressure on manufacturers who must step up efforts to hasten implementation of alternatives to canning, such as glass jars.  In the meantime, consumers beware.  Canned foods need to be avoided even more urgently than we thought.  I will be switching away from canned coconut milk immediately.  I have already switched to a brand of organic tomato products which use glass jars instead of cans.

Please comment with any brands you know of that are utilizing alternative packaging to cans.   BPA has shown itself to be a chemical that we cannot take any chances with in any amount.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


Comments (30)

  1. Cause and effect have not yet been established for BPA in humans. That’s a very tricky thing to do. To claim that one specific substance “causes” something in the absence of any other substance is virtually impossible.

  2. I use POMI tomato sauce( from Italy),strained tomatoes, and chopped tomatos in cartons, which, by the way, has only one ingredient, “tomatoes”, and uses BPA free cartons. My Publix often has theese on sale, and when that happpens, I stock up! I stopped using cans, except for Eden brands, because they use BPA free cans also. I have found organic pumpkin and organic cranberry sauce in BPA free cartons, I think it was Pacific brand.

  3. I read somewhere that the lids of glass jars have BPA including Mason jars. Do your own research as I don’t want you to take my word for it but glass may not be all that safe yet.

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  6. I get tuna from pouches, all the major brands sell it this way now. Also, I buy tomatoes from Pomi, a brand which sells the tomatoes in packages similar to juice boxes. I can't find a source for tomato paste, though. Any ideas?

  7. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist May 31, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Hi Margaret, yes I'm switching to Native Forest. I special ordered a case at my local healthfood store a few days ago. It should arrive this week. If you haven't seen it, just special order it. Most healthfood stores are ok with this and you get a 10% discount on top of it when you buy a case (12 cans).

  8. Sarah, have you decided which coconut milk you are switching to? I just bought more of the Thai Kitchen brand and it made me think of this blog entry. I have never seen the Native Forest brand.

  9. Unless I missed some form of it (with a bovine-dairy allergic mother that is quite rare) the So Delicious coconut milk contains additives. At least the ones, including the plain, I found in the dairy section of Whole Foods did. Is there another version I missed?

  10. my understanding is that Eden is BPA-free EXCEPT in their tomato products. If someone knows otherwise, I'd love to be corrected.

  11. Or just buy the chick peas in the bags (Goya for example) and Coconut Milk in the cartons (All Natural So Delicious Brand).

  12. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist May 23, 2010 at 12:20 am

    Rick, thanks for the BPA free tuna ideas. Megan, I'm going to call Thai Kitchen and see if this company has any plans to go BPA free anytime soon.

  13. Sarah–if you find an alternative to the Thai Kitchen canned coconut milk please let me know. Since we are weaning Mia, I really need to find something suitable for her! I'd be willing to split a bulk order with you too if we need to order online!

  14. Thanks for a lovely, informative post to let people be aware of the danger of BPA. I really hope more people will be aware of the danger of BPA. It's also widely used in baby bottles. I think the best and safe food is to prepare food from its natural state. I have not used canned food for a long time except coconut milk on very rare occasions. Usually I use the powder form. Back home in Malaysia we use pure fresh coconut cream.

    As for chick peas, I always soak it overnight and then boil them in the pressure cooker the next day. It tastes soft and very delicious and would be great for making hummus though I love it as a snack with a little sprinkle of sea salt. Hope this helps. Have a lovely weekend. Mary

  15. Is coconut milk available BPA free? I have just increased the amount of time I spend on my treadmill and I have not tested it yet, but it does seem like I may be losing more weight because of the coconut milk.

  16. Oh NO!

    I have always just got coconut milk and chickpeas in cans. The reason being- I can't find a source for organic coconuts and even though I soak for 24 hours and then simmer the chickpeas for 8 hours they still don't taste right in hummus? I don't know why- I don't mind doing the work but if I then make the recipe and the family won't eat it well grrrr…..

    I live in Canada… is there such a thing as chick peas in glass?


  17. As a concerned mother and a natural foods enthusiast I have looked carefully into the BPA issue and have found the risks as reported by the media to be greatly exaggerated when compared to the actual study results. I am cautious about accepting at face value ANY claims made by the mainstream media, and in terms of BPA as a health crisis, I find very little evidence to support the claim and quite a bit of evidence to counter it. I don't work for a pro-BPA company or receive any benefit from anyone. I'm a stay-at-home mom who wants to do best by my family. We raise our own beef, we garden our own veggies, we have our own fruit trees, etc. I am earnestly doing my best to feed my family well and am willing to go to effort to do so. I only urge you to look closely and study the facts (all the facts) before you jump on any health crisis bandwagon. This article might be a good place to start.
    Remember when butter was evil, eggs were harmful, and breastfeeding was passe? This is the same media machine. Just be wary of believing everything you read.

  18. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist May 22, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Hi Karen, my tomato paste and pizza sauce are in glass jars (Bionaturae). More expensive than the canned alternatives, but am excited by the comment that Muir Glen is going BPA free as I really like their pizza sauce but it is in a can.

  19. Aren't there some brands of tuna that come in pouches? Sorry, I'm not a tuna eater.

    Sarah….I use spaghetti sauce out of a glass jar but where do you get other tomato products that aren't in cans?

    • I realize this is an old post, but in case you have not received a reply to this yet I buy Wild Planet canned tuna. The can is marked as “certifiec BPA free”. Since they are a brand I trust i trust this claim also.

      • The only thing about buying something that is “BPA free” is it could be loaded with BPA’s sister ingredient: BPS.

        Darned if you do and darned if you don’t!


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