Photo: istorija, Flickr
First it was baby products, then reusable drinking bottles. Now a new report released last week by the National Workgroup for Safe Markets, a coalition of more than 17 public and environmental health groups, shows that bisphenol-A is present in most food preserved in cans (not just in the lining of the cans themselves, where it is used to protect food from corrosion and bacteria). BPA, as the chemical is also called, has been linked to a range of ills including cancer, infertility, and obesity.
For the new study (charmingly titled "No Silver Lining"), researchers analyzed 50 cans of food from 19 U.S. states and Ontario, Canada. BPA was found in a whopping 92 percent of the collected samples, with the top level being the highest yet reported in the U.S. -- 1,140 parts per billion. (In case you're keeping track, it was a can of Del Monte French Style Green Beans, and it came from Wisconsin.)
In the past, some have argued that while BPA is certainly present in a variety of plastics, the amount that actually leaches into our food is negligible. Not so here. Mike Schade, a co-author of the study, told AOL News that "real-life meals involving one or more cans of food can cause an individual to ingest levels of BPA that have been shown to cause health effects in laboratory animal studies."
The report further warns that the BPA was found across the board, regardless of brand, nutritional quality, or the price point of the foods. Whether it was the fancy gourmet stuff or the store label, BPA was in the can and therefore also in the food. Walmart's Great Value Green Peas from a store in Kentucky, and Healthy Choice Old Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup from a pantry in Montana, also scored high according to researchers.
As one might expect, politicians have started crying foul. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D. California, had already called for a ban on BPA in food and beverage containers. "Nearly 200 scientific studies show that exposures to low doses of BPA, particularly during pregnancy and early infancy, are associated with a wide range of adverse health effects later in life," she wrote in a column for the Huffington Post. This report will certainly add weight to her argument.