NEWS2U Health & Wellness
Living Healthy in an Unhealthy World

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

PBA Pervasive on our pantry Shelves

by Andrew Schneider
The health hazards of bisphenol A are well documented, but now scientists report that the chemical used in the coating of cans to protect food from corrosion and bacteria is pervasive in the canned goods on our kitchen shelves.

Researchers collected 50 cans of food from pantries in 19 states and Ontario and analyzed them at a top food safety lab in San Francisco. BPA was found in 92 percent of the samples, according to a 24-page study called "No Silver Lining," which was released today by the National Workgroup for Safe Markets.

The top level of BPA was 1,140 parts per billion -- believed to be the highest level ever found in the U.S. It was detected in Del Monte French Style Green Beans from a pantry in Wisconsin, the report said.

Other high scorers included Walmart's Great Value Green Peas from a store in Kentucky, and Healthy Choice Old Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup from a pantry in Montana, according to researchers from the coalition of more than 17 public and environmental health organizations.

"Our study details potential exposure to BPA from not just one can, but from meals prepared with canned food and drink that an ordinary person might consume over the course of a day," Mike Schade, a co-author of the study, told AOL News.

The investigator for the Center for Health, Environment & Justice added that the study showed 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 unopened cans of fruits, vegetables, beans, soups, tomato products, sodas and milk were sent to Anresco Laboratories to determine the concentrations of BPA in the food within the can. Only the food and not the packaging was tested.

The selection of canned food and drink represents a menu that an ordinary North American person might consume over the course of a day.

"It takes as little as one serving of canned foods to expose a person to levels of BPA that have been shown to cause harm in laboratory animals. This is especially troublesome if the person eating the canned foods is pregnant, because fetuses are especially vulnerable to BPA's effects," report co-author Bobbi Chase Wilding, organizing director of Clean New York, told AOL News.

Hundreds of studies -- by both government and academic researchers -- have shown that exposure of animals to low doses of BPA has been linked to cancer, abnormal behavior, diabetes and heart disease, infertility, developmental and reproductive harm, obesity and early puberty, a known risk factor for breast cancer. Also, BPA exposure is particularly of concern for pregnant women, babies and children.

The researchers warned that in addition to the risk of BPA in canned food, people are also exposed to the chemical composite in common products like polycarbonate water and baby bottles, 5-gallon water coolers, and printer inks, toners and thermal receipt paper (used by most gas stations and supermarkets) where BPA can rub off paper onto our hands and into our mouths.

What you pay for the food and where you buy it appears to have no impact on the presence of the contaminant. This study also shows that BPA levels in canned food cannot be predicted by the price of the product, the quality or relative nutrition value of the product, or where it was purchased.

In related action, Sen. Dianne Feinstein today repeated her demand for a ban on BPA in food and beverage containers. The California Democrat wants the ban included in the Food Safety Modernization Act, a bill moving through the Senate that looks at important external food contaminants like E. coli and salmonella, but not at packaging additives like BPA.