Research Confirms Link Between Food Can Linings and BPA Exposure

By Lauren R. Hartman, Product Development Editor

Jul 01, 2016

New research from Stanford University claims to resolve the debate on the link between canned food and exposure to the hormone-disrupting chemical known as Bisphenol A, or BPA.

Stanford News reports that the new study by researchers from Stanford and Johns Hopkins universities "puts to rest any lingering doubt about whether eating canned food increases exposure to a chemical linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other health effects."

The first-of-its-kind national sample also details specific canned foods linked to higher levels of BPA. Published in Environmental Research, the study highlights challenges consumers face in trying to limit their exposure to BPA, a compound used to make, among other things, resins that coat the inside of food cans and jar lids. Different foods have different amounts of BPA contamination.

“I could eat three cans of peaches, and you could eat one can of cream of mushroom soup and have a greater exposure to BPA,” explains lead author Jennifer Hartle, a postdoctoral researcher at the Stanford Prevention Research Center.

Previous research focused on analyzing the levels of BPA in canned products and measuring BPA exposure within groups of fewer than 75 people. Evaluating both dietary sources of BPA contamination and BPA levels in the urine of people who recently consumed canned food, the new analysis assessed thousands of people of various ages, and geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

The study says the worst BPA offenders are (in descending order): canned soup, canned pasta and canned vegetables and fruit.

The research indicates that particular kinds of canned food were associated with higher urinary BPA concentrations. Hartle and her colleagues found that canned food was associated with higher urinary BPA concentrations, and the more canned food consumed, the higher the BPA. The result confirms canned food’s outsized influence on exposure to BPA. The researchers also found that particular kinds of canned food were associated with higher urinary BPA concentrations. Hartle led a previous study that found children who are especially susceptible to hormone disruption from BPA, are at risk from school meals that often come from cans and other packaging.

Last year, as part of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment’s Rising Environmental Leaders Program, Hartle met with members of Congress working on regulating BPA in food packaging. California has listed BPA as a female reproductive toxicant, and the FDA restricts its use in some products. However, the FDA is still working to "answer key questions and clarify uncertainties about BPA," according to its website.

The researchers suggest that federal regulators expand testing beyond BPA to other chemicals used as BPA replacements in food packaging, Stanford News adds. None of those chemicals are included in national monitoring studies.

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