Canned Goods: What You May Not Know

I think it’s safe to assume that we’ve all heard about how unhealthy canned foods are due to being over-processed and high in sodium. But is that the only thing we have to be cautious about?

Unfortunately, it’s not.

If you read the ingredient list on a can of soup, you’re likely to see items like carrots, wild rice, perhaps some noodles. What you won’t see listed: the industrial chemical BPA, or bisphenol A.

BPA is found in some plastic bottles and in the epoxy resins used to coat the inside of many food and beverage cans. Previous studies have shown that some BPA from can linings does get into the foods they hold.

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Some scientists are concerned about BPA exposure because the chemical can act like the hormone estrogen, and studies show that high levels can affect sexual development in animals.

The Food and Drug Administration will soon decide what it considers a safe level of exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA), which some studies have linked to reproductive abnormalities and a heightened risk of breast and prostate cancers, diabetes, and heart disease.

The good news is that some companies are wising up to these findings. Recently, the traditionally family-friendly Campbell’s Soup brand began to attract attention from moms for all the wrong reasons: A report released by advocacy group Breast Cancer Fund found the company’s soup to have some of the highest BPA levels among a variety of canned foods it tested. Anticipating not only a potential FDA change on BPA, but also continued consumer backlash, Campbell’s announced today its plan to phase out the use of the chemical in its can linings.

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So what do you do about keeping safe from BPA? Aside from avoiding canned goods all together (this includes food and drink), here are a few tips on how to stay safe:

  • Drink tap water or rely on BPA-free stainless steel water bottles (from companies like Nalgene or Sigg) instead of slugging down bottled water. Difficulty Rating: Easy
  • Instead of eating microwavable meals that come out of plastic containers, eat only freshly-prepared, organic foods. Difficulty Rating: Moderate
  • Instead of using plastic utensils, rely on the longer-lasting variety. Difficulty Rating: Easy
  • To be safe, avoid all canned foods and replace with non-canned variations (replace canned soup with soup in a carton, for example) unless cans denote that they have a BPA-free lining. If that’s not possible, avoid these specific canned foods, which are known to be high in BPA: coconut milk, soup, meat, vegetables, meals, juice, fish, beans, meal-replacement drinks, and fruit (yes, we realize that encompasses most canned foods). Take special care to avoid foods that are acidic, salty, or fatty. Difficulty Rating: Hard
  • Steer clear of plastic storage containers for leftover food. Instead, use glass containers along with BPA-free plastic lids. The food should not touch the lids.  Difficulty Rating: Easy

 

Visit the BlackDoctor.org Food center for more articles and tips.

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