Monday, January 9, 2012

Meatless Monday: Avoid Cans When You Can

Late in November of 2011, The Harvard School of Public Health reported that volunteers who ate a 12-ounce serving of canned vegetarian soup for five days had more than a 1,200 percent increase in BPA in their urine over the volunteers who ate the same amount of fresh vegetarian soup for five days. Here is another excellent case for eating as fresh as you can, whenever you can.

What is BPA and why should you worry? Bisphenol A (BPA) is an industrial chemical which has been used in the manufacture of some plastics and resins since the 1960s. It  was particularly common in polycarbonate plastics used to store food and beverages, and in a number of other items including water bottles, baby bottles and cups, and toys. BPA is listed as an endocrine disruptor by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, which defines endocrine disruptors as “chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife.” For more information, read the Mayo Clinic’s response to the question, “What is BPA, and What Are the Concerns About BPA?”

The time of potential greatest risk from BPA exposure is during fetal development and in early childhood years when the body and its organs are forming. As a result of extensive lobbying by concerned citizens and activist groups, plastics containing BPA have all but disappeared from store shelves. There is still no federal legislation, but individual states passed laws which had an impact on the industry. In June, 2009, Connecticut became the first state to ban BPA from infant formula, baby food cans and jars, and from all reusable food and beverage containers; in October, 2011, California became the 11th state to take such an action. Connecticut’s ban took effect on October 1, 2011.

That’s good news for the problematic plastics. But with all the attention focused on BPA in polycarbonate, not as much attention was being paid to the BPA in resins. Epoxy resins are used to coat the inside of metal cans, to keep them from rusting, particularly when they contain an acidic product like tomatoes. The recent Harvard canned soups study leaves little doubt that BPA leaches from the lining to the food and that we are ingesting it.

Over 90% of Americans tested by the CDC were found to have residues of BPA in their bodies. On the good chance that you are not in the BPA Free 10%, you might want to consider some preventive measures for you, your family, and any future offspring.

What can you do?
  • Make your own soup.
  • Cook your own beans. [This will also save you money. You can freeze the extra for future use.]
  • When buying canned goods look for the phrase “BPA Free Lining” on the label. You will find this on Eden Organic canned bean products.  Eden Organics has been using BPA Free cans since 1999! Muir Glen is transitioning to BPA Free liners.You can read more about BPA Free cans here
  • To be safe, look for BPA Free stickers on any plastic products you purchase. Rubbermaid has offered a BPA Free line since 2009. 
  • Purchase prepared food in glass jars. Use glass or porcelain for storing your own food.
  • Never heat or microwave in plastic.
  • And here is something you may not know. Stainless steel sports bottles do not contain linings of any kind. You will never find BPA there. Check out Kleen Kanteen

It all comes down to two rules: 
  • Eat fresh when you can.
  • Avoid cans when you can.

Have a great week. “See” you next Monday.

I often blog on food or food issues on Monday in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal  health and the health of our planet.”

1 comment:

  1. We may be handling BPA everyday. Go here to read more: