Do You Know Nutrition: Are plastic linings in canned foods toxic?
April 19, 2011 at midnight
Updated April 18, 2011 at 11:19 p.m.
By Phylis Canion
I do not buy many canned foods, but recently I bought a can, and when I opened it, I noticed it had a white plastic-like lining on the inside. I tasted the food and thought it had a different taste to it, so I threw it out. What is the lining; is it in all canned foods now, and is that lining toxic?
Approximately 85 percent of canned foods sold in the United States, even those containing organic food, are lined with a plastic coating that contains the chemical known as bisphenol A or BPA. BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s.
The National Toxicology Program at the Department of Health and Human Services says it has "some concern" about the possible health effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children.
The level of concern is midway on its five-level scale. The Food and Drug Administration now shares the same level of concern and is taking steps to reduce human exposure to BPA in the food supply in the United States. The problem is BPA is also a synthetic estrogen and plastics with BPA can break down, especially when heated, washed or stressed, allowing the chemical to leach into food and water and then enter the human body.
The Centers for Disease Control has found that BPA was found in the urine of 93 percent of surveyed Americans over the age of 6. In September 2010, Canada and the European Union declared BPA toxic and began banning the product. The first product it banned was the use of BPA in baby bottles.
According to the Environmental Working Group, EWG, of all foods tested, canned chicken soup, infant formulas and ravioli had BPA with the highest levels of concern.
The acidity of a container's contents and the age and condition of the polycarbonate (the BPA lining) affects how much of the chemical leaches into the food. If you must buy a canned product, avoid those cans that are dented. It is important to look for products that state BPA FREE.
Stainless steel containers do not contain BPA, however, polycarbonate plastics that are hard, clear, lightweight plastic and has the code seven on the bottom inside the triangle indicate it contains BPA.
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Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.