People like you who are interested in strengthening the resilience of our region
November 2, 2009
• Canned Del Monte Fresh Cut Green Beans Blue Lake had the highest amount of BPA for a single sample in Consumer Reports tests, with levels ranging from 35.9 parts per billon (ppb) to 191 ppb. Progresso Vegetable Soup BPA levels ranged from 67 to 134 ppb. Campbell’s Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup had BPA levels ranging from 54.5 to 102 ppb.
• Average amounts in tested products varied widely. In most items tested, such as canned corn, chili, tomato sauce, and corned beef, BPA levels ranged from trace amounts to about 32 ppb.Given the significance of BPA exposure for infants and young children, Consumer Reports tested samples of Similac Advance Infant Formula and Nestlé Juicy Juice All Natural 100% Apple Juice. The findings revealed:
• Similac liquid concentrate in a can averaged 9 ppb of BPA, but there was no measurable level in the powdered version.
• Nestlé Juicy Juice in a can averaged 9.7 ppb of BPA, but there were no measurable levels in the samples of the same product packaged in juice boxes.“The BPA levels in our samples of Nestlé Juicy Juice, at about 9 ppb, were not among the highest in the foods we tested. However, considering how many servings of juice young children may consume daily, a child still could exceed a level that Consumers Union thinks would provide an adequate margin of safety,” said Dr. Rangan. Bypassing metal cans in favor of other packaging such as plastic containers or bags might lower but not eliminate exposure to BPA, but this wasn’t true for all products tested.
• Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup in plastic packaging contained detectable amounts of BPA but at levels that were significantly lower than the same brand of soup in the can. StarKist Chunk Light canned tuna averaged 3 ppb of BPA, but BPA levels in the same brand in a plastic pouch weren’t measurable.• Bird’s Eye Steam Fresh Cut Green Beans, frozen in a plastic bag, contained very low levels of BPA, about 1 ppb or less.• However, in one item tested, the alternative packaging contained higher levels of BPA than the canned version. Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli in Tomato and Meat Sauce packaged in a plastic container with a metal peel-off lid had BPA levels 1.5 times higher than the same brand of food in metal cans.
BPA was found in some products packaged in cans that claimed to be “BPA-free.”• Although tests of the inside of the cans found that the liners were not epoxy-based, suggesting BPA was not used, samples of Vital Choice’s tuna in “BPA-free” cans were found to contain an average of 20 ppb of BPA and those of Eden Baked Beans in “BPA-free” cans averaged 1 ppb BPA.
BPA, which has been used for years in clear plastic bottles and food-can liners, has been restricted in Canada and some U.S. states and municipalities because of potential health effects. But, there are no federal restrictions on BPA in food packaging. Federal guidelines currently put the daily upper limit of safe exposure at 50 micrograms of BPA per kilogram of body weight. But that level is based on experiments done in the 1980s rather than hundreds of more recent animal and laboratory studies indicating that serious health risks could result from much lower doses of BPA. Several animal studies show adverse effects, such as abnormal reproductive development, at exposures of 2.4 micrograms of BPA per kilogram of body weight per day, a dose that could be reached from a person eating one or a few servings daily or an adult daily diet that includes multiple servings of canned foods containing BPA levels comparable to some of the foods Consumer Reports tested.
In keeping with established practices that ensure an adequate margin of safety for human exposure, Consumer Reports’ food-safety scientists recommend limiting daily exposure to BPA to one-thousandth of that level, or 0.0024 micrograms per kilogram of body weight, significantly lower than FDA’s current safety limit.
An FDA special scientific advisory panel reported in late 2008 that the agency’s basis for setting safety standards to protect consumers was inadequate and should be reevaluated. A congressional subcommittee determined in 2009 that the agency relied too heavily on studies sponsored by the American Plastics Council. The FDA, now under the leadership of Dr. Margaret Hamburg, is expected to announce soon its reassessment of BPA safety. Bills are currently pending in Congress that would ban the use of BPA in all food and beverage containers. Industry has been waging a fight against new regulations.
Almost a decade ago, Consumers Union was one of the first consumer groups to test BPA in baby bottles, and to warn consumers about its potential dangers. Consumers Union calls on manufacturers and government agencies to act to eliminate the use of BPA in all materials that come into contact with food. Consumers who are concerned might be able to reduce, though not necessarily eliminate, their dietary exposure to BPA by taking the following steps:• Choose fresh food whenever possible.
• Consider alternatives to canned food, beverages, juices, and infant formula.
• Use glass containers when heating food in microwave ovens.
The December issue of Consumer Reports is available wherever magazines are sold.
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Naomi Starkman, 917.539.3924
© Consumers Union 2009. The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not be used for commercial or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports® is published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. To achieve this mission, we test, inform, and protect. To maintain our independence and impartiality, Consumers Union accepts no outside advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the interests of consumers. Consumers Union supports itself through the sale of our information products and services, individual contributions, and a few noncommercial grants.