We confess. Some canned foods will always have their place in our hearts, like mushy tinned peas with fish n' chips on a winter night. But now it's spring, and we're ready to eat fresh seasonal produce rather than out of cans, which are lined with Bisphenol-A (BPA), the same hormone-disrupting chemical used in polycarbonate water bottles.
BPA can migrate out of plastic into foods and liqulids, and can linings provide more exposure than plastic containers, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Not only is BPA found in nearly all U.S. food cans, but the chemical may be present at unsafe levels in one out of every 10 servings of canned foods and one out of every 3 cans of infant formula, EWG's studies found. Because babies' bodies are rapidly growing, and BPA can interfere with reproductive and neurological development, it's worth a parent's while to protect them from daily doses of the chemical from bottles and cans.
Citing concerns about BPA released by the U.S. National Toxicology Program in April, which spurred Wal-mart, Nalgene and others to phase out polycarbonate, EWG has asked infant formula makers to stop using BPA-lined tins.
In addition to eating less canned food in general, here are some tips for avoiding BPA.
*Buy powdered baby formula, meant to be mixed with fresh water, rather than liquid formulas from cans. Or buy liquid formulas in plastic containers, which leach less BPA.
*Although soft drink cans have been found to pose less less of a risk from BPA, choose water, juices and sodas in glass or non-leaching PET (#1) or HDPE (#2) bottles instead.
* Because BPA leaches more readily from acidic foods such as tomatoes (alas!) and fruits, try to buy and prepare these foods fresh.
*Check dates on canned tomatoes and soups, and try to eat the most recent vintage you can find, on the theory that shorter exposure to the insides of a can means less opportunity for absorption of BPA.
*Keep canned foods away from heat, which accelerates migration of chemicals out of plastics.
To read more about EWG's findings, click here.
So we'll save the Spam, Spotted Dick and BPA for another day.
This article originally appeared in Plenty in May 2008. The story was added to MNN.com.