Sign up to receive email updates, action alerts, health tips, promotions to support our work and more from EWG. You can opt-out at any time. [Privacy]

 

Consumer tips to avoid BPA exposure

Bisphenol A - Toxic Plastics Chemical in Canned Food: Consumer tips to avoid BPA exposure

March 5, 2007

Although completely eliminating exposure to BPA may not be possible, there are steps you can take to reduce your family's exposure to this chemical.

Infant formula: All U.S. manufacturers use BPA-based lining on the metal portions of the formula containers. Tests of liquid formulas by FDA and EWG show that BPA leaches into the formula from all brands tested. Enfamil formula appears to have the highest concentrations of the 20 tests. EWG is concerned about BPA exposures for babies fed liquid formula. Choose powdered formula which may not have BPA in packaging and which is more diluted with water. If your baby needs liquid formula look for types sold in plastic or glass containers.

Our testing of canned foods found that BPA leaches from the liner into the food itself. Sensitive groups such as kids and pregnant women should limit canned food consumption. Beverages appear to contain less BPA residues, while canned pasta and soups contain the highest levels. Rinsing canned fruit or vegetables with water prior to heating and serving could lessen BPA ingestion.

Certain plastics called polycarbonates leach low levels of BPA into food or liquids. Leaching from plastic baby bottles and food containers appears to happen at a much lower level than found in canned foods and baby formula. Nevertheless it is good to take simple precautions.

BPA is found in polycarbonate plastic food containers often marked on the bottom with the letters "PC" recycling label #7. Not all #7 labeled products are polycarbonate but this is a reasonable guideline for a category of plastics to avoid. Polycarbonate plastics are rigid and transparent and used for sippy cups, baby bottles, food storage, and water bottles. Some polycarbonate water bottles are marketed as 'non-leaching' for minimizing plastic taste or odor, however there is still a possibility that trace amounts of BPA will migrate from these containers, particularly if used to heat liquids.

Safer products and uses: When possible it is best to avoid #7 plastics, especially for children's food. Plastics with the recycling labels #1, #2 and #4 on the bottom are safer choices and do not contain BPA. Find baby bottles in glass versions, or those made from the safer plastics including polyamine, polypropylene and polyethylene. Soft or cloudy-colored plastic does not contain BPA. Bottles used to pump and store expressed breast milk by the brand Medela are also labeled BPA-free.

Some metal water bottles are lined with a plastic coating that contains BPA. Look for stainless steel bottles that do not have a plastic liner.

We recommend avoiding use of plastic containers to heat food in microwaves. Ceramic, glass, and other microwaveable dishware are good alternatives. Avoid using old and scratched plastic bottles.