Friday, March 5, 2010

More on Bisphenol A (BPA) in Aluminum Cans

A reader commented on Wednesday’s post about Bisphenol A in aluminum cans, stating that Muir Glen’s 14.5 ounce containers of tomatoes do not have BPA in their linings.

Unfortunately this is not the case; there is BPA in the linings of all canned tomatoes.

Yesterday, I called Muir Glen (owned by General Mills) for verification. According to Harry, the customer service representative who helped me:
“All of our tomato products utilize BPA in the cans’ linings. We are looking at alternatives, but right now there is not a viable solution. Virtually all manufacturers use aluminum cans with BPA in the linings.”
The notable exception is Eden Foods, which uses non BPA-lined cans for its bean products. (Eden’s tomato products come in BPA-lined cans.) From the Eden website:
“All 33 Eden Organic Beans including Chili, Rice & Beans, Refried, and Flavored, are cooked in steel cans coated with a baked on oleoresinous c-enamel that does not contain the endocrine disrupter chemical, bisphenol-A (BPA). Oleoresin is a non-toxic mixture of an oil and a resin extracted from various plants, such as pine or balsam fir. These cans cost 14% more than the industry standard cans that do contain BPA. The Ball Corporation tells us that Eden is the only U.S. food maker to date to use these BPA free cans and we have been since April 1999.”
Interestingly, Eden is still independent, a rarity in the world of organic food. For the most part, all popular organic labels are owned by the multinationals.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

(Warning! Long comment!)
Hey Rob...thanks for your thoughts, both on this and on something you responded to me on before (I asked a question about Kosher vs. Sea Salt). (Plus, I didn't know if, to thank you, I should have commented again..instead just decided to thank you on my next comment! So that's what this is!)

Anyway, I wanted to make note of something that you allude to here, about how organics are often owned by big companies. Now, I'm not preaching against any of that, but there is some fallout associated with how popular "organic" has become. I'm not at all criticizing people for buying/eating organic, but it's clear that it's not a cure-all, and I appreciate your pointing out that not all organic are on the up-and-up w/ everything.

In this vein, I wanted to share something that bothered me. A close, reliable friend worked on an organic dairy farm for a little while. B/c of the demand--and restrictions--for organic dairy products, these farms would not administer medications which could have relieved the cattle of a great deal of suffering. That is, our desire for "pure" food sometimes means unnecessary pain for animals.

Again, this doesn't mean all organic is bad, but I think awareness as to how businesses run w/ popular movements like the organic one is necessary, as they're still concerned w/ their bottom line. In the end, I care more about humans than cows (sorry if that's insensitive), but I'd like to think we can eat healthy without having such awful situations for cows. Administer the antibiotics and just remove it from the organic farm, if you ask me; relieve it from it's pain.

Anyway, thanks as always for your blog,
Jon in Miami

GiGi said...

I have a question about other canned products, specifically canned pumpkin... am I in danger of BPA "poisoning" because I eat canned pumpkin daily?!?!

An Hour In the Kitchen said...

The Leonard Lopate Show had a great segment on BPA:
http://www.wnyc.org/shows/lopate/episodes/2010/02/05

Chef Rob said...

Jon in Miami,

Thanks for your comments.

First, for similar reasons to what you wrote, I try not to use the word "organic." It has become a catch-all phrase that prevents us from addressing and understanding the deeper issues. I believe that when we see the word "organic" on a label, we give blind faith to the product. Instead, we must get into the habit of reading ingredient lists. Remember, organic junk food is still junk food.

I agree with your point about removing sick animals from organic farms and administering drugs off-site. However, since so many organic dairy farmers are struggling as it is, the financial costs may be too great to bear.

Again, as I write often, so many of these problems exist because the default quality (or lack thereof) of our modern food supply is so awful.

Thanks again for reading and commenting.

Rob

Chef Rob said...

Gigi,

Unfortunately, it's not just canned pumpkin. I would say 99 percent of us are eating food from aluminum cans daily. (The tomato sauce on pizza from a pizza parlor comes from an aluminum can.)

I am neither a doctor nor a scientist, so I won't touch the BPA "poisoning" question.

But I will point you to sources for information (on both sides of the argument):

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's on-going coverage of chemicals (including BPA) in our food supply: http://www.jsonline.com/watchdog/34405049.html

WNYC (radio station in NYC) segment on the subject (thanks Kara from www.anhourinthekitchen.com): http://www.wnyc.org/shows/lopate/episodes/2010/02/05

And the North American Metal Packaging Alliance's view:

http://www.metal-pack.org/press.shtml

I hope that helps.

Rob

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For me the canned foods are best preserved, in fact are they last longer, are are my favorites.

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