Canned food may be an inexpensive convenience for busy families, but it could come with a much higher cost to your health. You may have heard of a chemical called bisphenol or BPA. It’s used in the manufacturing of polycarbonate plastic or epoxy resins, which are used in some food packaging materials, including the lining inside metal-based food and beverage cans, reusable plastic containers for food and beverages, tableware and many other everyday products, including plastic baby bottles.
The History of BPA
Bispehnol-A was first created in 1891 by a Russian chemist, and in the 1930s it was investigated for use as an artificial estrogen when it was found to mimic the effects of estrogen in the human body. In the 1950s it gained a reputation as a chemical that could produce strong and resilient plastics, and manufactures began using it in their products. Today, BPA is regarded as either a harmless ingredient that works fantastically for manufacturing plastic, or a dangerous chemical that poses serious health risks. It all depends on who you ask.
The Health Concerns
The FDA has labeled BPA safe for use, but the fact that BPA mimics estrogen in the body has raised many health concerns. There have been around 1,000 animal studies on BPA, the majority of which show a link to many health problems including fertility problems, increased risk of cancers, cardiovascular problems and impaired brain development.
Animal studies are about as far as researchers can go, as it would be unethical to give an extremely high dose of BPA to humans for research. For this reason, the tests aren’t exactly conclusive, which gives companies and regulators the chance to keep the green light on concerning the use of BPA in their products.
As of 2012, 10 billion pounds of materials containing BPA were produced worldwide, with a market value of more than $13 billion — a number that many scientists believe might be offset by a larger cost of human health.
In a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers reported that BPA may suppress genes that are critical to early development of the central nervous system, putting a developing fetus and infant at a higher risk for neurodevelopmental disorders.
The Harsh Truth
With all of the controversy surrounding BPA, several companies have publicly pledged to eliminate it from their products. But when a coalition of health and environmental advocacy groups tested 192 random cans from retailers in Canada and the U.S., they found that nearly 70% contained BPA. Some of the affected products even came from companies claiming to have removed BPA from their packaging, including Kroger, which announced efforts in 2011 to eliminate the chemical, and Campbell Soup Company, which made a similar announcement in 2012.
BPA was found in all of the Campbell’s cans that were tested, as well as 70% of Del Monte products, half of the Green Giant and Progresso cans tested, and many of the private-label cans sold at Kroger, Trader Joe’s, Walmart and Target. Cans sold at Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores tested at 83% for BPA.
You can find a list of companies still using BPA in their products, as well as a list of brands that are BPA-free here. Watch the video below for tips on how to avoid exposing yourself to products that contain BPA.
h/t: take part
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