Monday, April 25, 2011

BPA from canned foods

Scientists from the Breast Cancer Fund recently published a study that showed that eliminating processed foods significantly lowers BPA exposure. BPA is a toxic industrial chemical used to harden plastic. It is commonly used in plastic food and beverage containers, lids of glass jars, epoxy lining in metal cans and dental sealants. Research has shown that BPA leaches out of the plastic and into food and can be harmful even at low doses. Hundreds of peer-reviewed studies have linked BPA to health and development problems, including birth defects, breast and prostate cancer, early puberty, infertility, obesity, chromosome and reproductive abnormalities, diabetes, heart disease and neurobehavioral problems. (Read more here.)

So, according to the Breast Cancer Fund, here are some tips for reducing BPA in your diet:

- Switch to stainless steel and glass food storage and beverage containers.
- Move foods to ceramic or glass food containers for microwaving.
- Consider a French press for coffee – home coffee makers may have polycarbonate-based water tanks and phthalate-based tubing.
- Eat out less, especially at restaurants that do not use fresh ingredients.
- Limit canned food consumption.
- Choose fresh fruits and vegetables when possible, and frozen if not.
- Soak dried beans for cooking (you can make extra and freeze them).

So -- as I read this, I'm thinking I've already done most of these . . . but then they have a list of the canned foods to especially avoid -- the ones high in sodium, fat, and acid - - - which pretty much covers all canned foods. Recently, I've been consciously working toward eliminating canned foods . . . for me, that means beans, tomatoes, and coconut milk. In fact, today I have a big batch of white beans in my slow cooker that I will use some of for dinner and freeze the rest (in glass containers, not plastic). Here's how--in case you're interested.

Soak 2 cups beans overnight in a lot of water. Drain the beans. Place in slow cooker with 8 cups water. Add a strip of kombu (sea vegetable) if desired--helps to soften beans and reduce gas effects. Cover and cook on low about 8-10 hours. Makes about 6 cups beans.


Renee said...

This makes me so sad! We cook from scratch but love canned coconut milk and canned tomatoes for tons of things. I don't think you can get coconut milk if it's not canned, can you?

LauraJayne said...

Finding out about BPA and then realizing how many of my products contain it has been so totally disheartening for me! I've been trying to slowly transition away from the products I own to better alternatives, but it's been a slow process! These tips are very helpful!

Cathe Olson said...

I'm the same way -- I use canned tomatoes and coconut milk fairly often.

Here's good news though . . . I contacted General Mills about this and got this information in their response:

"General Mills uses can coatings that fully comply with all applicable global requirements for safe use in food contact materials. But we know that some consumer would like us to pursue alternatives – and we are working intensively with our can suppliers and manufacturers to develop and test linings that do not use BPA. While alternatives have not been identified for all types of foods, we did identify a safe, viable alternative for our tomato products under the Muir Glen brand. We began transitioning those to the alternative cans with the fall 2010 tomato harvest."

So at least that's one brand of tomatoes that's safe. As for coconut milk, there is coconut milk that comes in refrigerated cartons. It's not as thick as canned but it's something. Of course, I could make my own coconut milk but it's quite a chore.

Renee said...

I don't think I've ever seen that brand. In fact, I've only ever seen General Mills cereal here. I am in Canada, and we seem to have a lot less selection here than in the US. But I'll look, just in case!

Cathe Olson said...

Muir Glen is often found in natural foods stores because their tomatoes are organic. They have a website