EWG Targets Brands Still Using Toxic BPA in Canned Food

Consumer Pressure Driving Marketplace Changes, While Government Continues to Ignore Mounting Scientific Evidence

WASHINGTON – A new analysis of the canned food marketplace released today by EWG will help American shoppers determine which products still contain the toxic hormone disruptor bisphenol A, or BPA.

EWG analysts surveyed more than 250 brands of canned food mostly between January and August 2014. They found that more than 110 brands still line all or some of their metal cans with an epoxy resin containing BPA. Another 100 brands landed in EWG’s “uncertain” category because they did not respond to the survey or provide enough information.

The analysis, titled “BPA in Canned Food,” lists Target’s Market Pantry, Bush’s, Carnation, Dinty Moore and Eagle Brand among the brands using BPA, while Amy’s Kitchen, Annie’s Homegrown, Sprouts Farmers Market and others are BPA-free.

“The biggest problem is that people have no reliable way of knowing whether they are buying food that is laced with this toxic chemical,” said Samara Geller, EWG database analyst. “Federal regulations do not require manufacturers to label their products to identify cans with BPA-based linings. By releasing this analysis, we hope to arm people with the critical information they need to avoid BPA and make smarter shopping decisions.”

EWG broke down its lists into four categories: worst players, best players, better players and uncertain players.

  • Worst players: 78 brands use BPA-lined cans for all products.
  • Best players: 31 brands use BPA-free cans for all products.
  • Better players: 34 brands use BPA-free cans for one or more of their products.
  • Uncertain players: 109 brands did not respond to EWG or provide enough information.

EWG analysts relied on data from LabelINSIGHT®, a company that gathers information from U.S. supermarkets, to develop its lists of brands. They also reviewed available information on can lining practices on company and brand websites and social media pages and directly contacted company representatives.

EWG also launched a consumer petition today to put pressure on the “worst players” to stop using BPA.

“The marketplace changes that we are seeing are being driven largely by consumers who are speaking up and demanding cleaner products and better options,” added Geller. “Some companies are entirely BPA-free, while others, like Eden Foods and Natural Value, are virtually BPA-free. We applaud these companies as well as retailers, such as Whole Foods Market, that are pushing the market towards non-BPA alternatives and phasing out BPA-coated products from store shelves.” 

BPA is a synthetic estrogen that scientists have linked to breast cancer, reproductive damage, developmental problems, heart disease and other illnesses. It is often an ingredient in the epoxy used to coat the inside of a variety of food containers and is also found on many store receipts. In 2007, EWG testing showed that the chemical readily leaches into food.

Thirteen states and a few local governments have taken action to ban BPA in reusable food containers and five states ban or limit it in some disposable food containers. In 2011, California prohibited BPA in baby bottles and children’s sippy cups. And just last month, the state added BPA to its Proposition 65 list of toxic chemicals. But much more needs to be done to protect families against BPA’s health hazards.

Less progress has been made at the federal level. The Food and Drug Administration continues to claim that BPA is safe, despite significant evidence to the contrary, and allows its use in food packaging and other consumer products.

“Many people on tight budgets or with little access to fresh food rely on canned food as a source of nutrients,” said Renee Sharp, EWG’s director of research. “That’s why we need to get this right. We need a clear national standard that limits the use of BPA in canned food and improves transparency so that people can know when and if they are ingesting this harmful chemical.”

“But the fact is we can’t rely on current federal regulations alone to safeguard us from BPA or to ensure that the substances replacing it are any safer,” Sharp added. “We are learning that at least some of the alternative chemicals have the same potential to disrupt hormones.”

In the meantime, EWG recommends that people limit or avoid eating canned food. When buying canned food, use EWG’s Food Scores database to find BPA-free options and read EWG’s “BPA in Canned Food” report for a host of additional information and tips on how to reduce your exposure to BPA.

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