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Five Ways to Keep BPA Out of Your Food and Your Body

Sep 19, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

BPA—or Bisphenol A—is a highly ubiquitous chemical compound that mimics estrogen and is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resin.  Studies confirm BPA is chemically similar to diethylstilbestrol, a synthetic estrogen linked to the development of vaginal cancer in the daughters of women who took the drug in the 1950s-1960s to prevent miscarriage.  BPA has been in commercial use since the 1950s and is found in a wide variety of everyday items including water bottles, food and drink packaging and can linings, dental sealants, CDs and DVDs, eyeglasses, and automobiles.  Most experts agree BPA is disruptive to the body’s hormonal system; scientists disagree over what dosage is harmful. Over six billion pounds of BPA are produced in the US annually by Dow Chemical, BASF, Bayer, and others and over 95 percent of Americans test positive for BPA in their urine.

BPA has been linked to prostate and breast cancers; behavioral disorders; reproductive and neurological problems; neural and behavioral effects in fetuses, infants, and children; and early onset for female puberty.  Most recently, we reported on a study that linked BPA to diabetes, heart disease, and liver enzyme abnormalities.  Meanwhile, last year, the Environmental Working Group conducted an analysis of BPA in canned foods and found the amount varies depending on the food:  Condensed milk has relatively little BPA; infant formula contains much more at about one-fifth the safe dose limit set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Risks are also dependent on consumption amounts.  While canned soda has less BPA per serving than some other foods, people tend to drink more than one can every now and then.

With studies confirming BPA’s danger to humans and the controversy mounting, there are some steps consumers can take to help avoid ingesting the toxic chemical that seems to be virtually everywhere and in everything.

  • Buy tomato sauce in glass jars.  Canned tomato sauce is likely to have higher levels of BPA because of the tomatoes’ high acidity causing increased amounts of BPA to leach from the can’s lining into the food.  This also applies to any type of canned pasta, included canned ravioli and canned children’s meals.
  • Eat frozen or fresh fruits and vegetables instead of their canned counterparts.  Not only do fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables offer BPA-free food options, they are generally richer in nutrients, which are often lost in the canning process.  By the way, Eden Foods offers canned BPA-free beans.
  • Purchase beverages in plastic or glass bottles.  Canned soda and juice generally contain some BPA; however, disposable plastic water bottles typically do not contain BPA.  To confirm, disposable water bottles that contain BPA generally bear the number 7 recycling code on the bottom of the bottle.
  • Use powdered infant formula instead of the ready-to-serve liquid type.  In a separate assessment from the Environmental Working Group, it found that liquid formulas contain more BPA than powdered brands.
  • Think of moderation. Eat less of those foods that are high in BPA.

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