Soup. You’ve probably been eating a lot of it if you live in any part of the country that has experienced the severe cold weather this winter. Maybe you’ve been choosing soup that has lots of good stuff in it – veggies and beans and lentils. But, if that soup has been coming out of a can, it may not be as healthy as you think. Although companies like Campbell’s are phasing the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA) out of their cans, the majority of cans on your grocery store shelf, including some cans of organic foods, still contain the chemical. BPA is increasingly being linked to health problems, including childhood obesity and asthma.

Yahoo recently discussed some problems with food packaging including BPA lined cans, microwaved plastic containers, and microwavable popcorn bags. Let’s take a look at these problems and offer some solutions.

BPA-lined cans

Look for brands that have already removed BPA from their cans. Amy’s has completely transitioned to cans that don’t have any BPA in their lining. Muir Glen’s canned tomato products (and only their tomato products) do not contain BPA in the lining. The information isn’t on their website, but a Muir Glen representative confirmed that fact on a Chowhound discussion thread. For more brands, check out 7 Companies You Can Trust to Use BPA-Free Cans over at Treehugger.

Of course, you can do your own canning (in glass jars) of homemade soups, tomatoes, sauces, and vegetables when ingredients are in season, but be wary of the BPA in the linings of jar lids. I asked my friend Marisa McClellan from the Food in Jars canning blog about BPA-free jar lids that some companies have been selling recently.

“I have used those lids and while I’ve not had any bad experiences with them, I’ve heard over and over again from people that the seals failed over time,” Marisa told me. She also pointed me to a specific post she did on the Tattler brand of reusable BPA-free lids. They passed her personal “standard seal test.”

If you chose not to use the BPA-free canning lids, canning in glass jars is certainly still a better option than buying foods in BPA-lined cans. The small amount of BPA in the lids  that barely touch the food is much better than the liners of the cans that surround the food in total.

Microwaved plastic containers

You could do what I’ve done and live microwave-free, but you don’t need to go to that extreme to make sure your food doesn’t come in contact with plastic in the microwave.

When plastic is heated and comes in contact with food, it can leach some of its chemicals into the food. Don’t use plastic containers to microwave any food. It’s not that difficult. Even if you buy frozen products to keep on hand in a pinch, you can remove them from their plastic containers and use glass or ceramic containers to heat them in.

Microwavable Popcorn Bags

Microwave popcorn bags are lined with PFOA, a chemical that has been linked to cancer in animals. The chemical may also cause vaccines to not be as effective. That’s a lot of risk to take for a snack that takes almost as little time to pop on top of the stove as it does to make in the microwave. It takes me about 7 minutes to pop popcorn on my stovetop. I pop it in heart-healthy olive oil and often skip the butter and just sprinkle it with Kosher salt. If I do put butter on it, I can control the amount. It’s a heck of lot less expensive to pop my own, too, than to buy the microwavable bags.

What solutions do you use to keep the foods you eat from being harmed from the packages they’re in until you eat them?

Also on MNN

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Processed food packaging poses health risks
The packaging that holds processed foods may have chemicals that you want to avoid. We have some solutions for doing so.