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BPA in Canned Food

Behind the Brand Curtain

BPA in Canned Food: Behind the Brand Curtain
BPA in Canned Food: Behind the Brand Curtain
June 3, 2015

BPA in Canned Food: Recommendations

For policy makers

  • The FDA, EPA, European Food Safety Authority and other international regulatory bodies should determine a safe level of exposure that takes into consideration the scientific evidence of BPA’s toxicity at low doses.
  • The permissible level of BPA in canned food should be no greater than 1 part per billion. These agencies should regulate labeling to ensure that it conforms to this limit.
  • The FDA should re-examine all food contact substances for safety and facilitate development of new, safer alternatives as food producers work to restore public confidence in canned products. The agency must consider adverse health effects from low-dose exposures, effects on sensitive populations and aggregate exposures from various sources.
  • Congress should give the FDA authority to review food packaging chemicals approved before the year 2000, as the agency requested in 2010.
  • Congress should act to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act so that the EPA is better able to take timely, meaningful action to get problematic chemicals off the market.

For food companies and can suppliers

EWG recognizes and applauds efforts that many food companies are making to remove BPA from food packaging – especially in the absence of government guidance or a federal BPA standard for canned food. However the industry as a whole must move faster. All along the supply chain food producers should harness their collective bargaining power to stimulate increased production of BPA-free materials.

EWG encourages companies that have adopted BPA-free cans for some or all of their products to have the linings independently tested to verify the certificates and claims of their suppliers, using a robust limit of detection of no higher than 1 part per billion. This would provide adequate assurance that the can lining was not manufactured with BPA and that any BPA present is only a result of the chemical’s ubiquitous presence in the environment.

Consumers want clear and unambiguous information before they buy. Companies should inform their customers of their progress toward using only BPA-free cans, allowing the public to decide what companies and brands to buy.

For consumers

EWG recommends that people limit or avoid canned food. If you purchase canned foods, select one of the brands that uses a BPA-free can liner. Ask the company about the safety of the materials used as a replacement.

We urge pregnant woman and children to take special care to avoid eating food packaged in BPA epoxy cans. It can be difficult to avoid eating some canned food when dining out but worth the effort to make the switch at home.

The following steps can reduce the risk of BPA exposure:

  • Substitute fresh, frozen, or dried food for canned.
  • Purchase food in alternative packaging, such as glass.
  • For those who cannot avoid BPA epoxy can linings, rinsing canned beans, fruit, and vegetables in water may help lower the level of BPA in the food.
  • Never heat food in the can.
  • Choose canned foods from EWG’s Best Players or Better Players lists of brands and companies that attest to using BPA-free linings in all or some of their canned products. Search EWG’s Food Scores for specific products.

Consumers who want to avoid BPA in canned food or want to see more of their favorite brands and varieties available in cans without BPA need to do their homework – and take action.

  • Contact the company and ask for the BPA status of its product if it’s not already publicly disclosed. Urge companies that say or imply that they are shifting to BPA-free packaging to post frequent updates on their progress on their websites and through social media.
  • Demand that companies disclose what’s in their can linings. Companies need to hear from consumers that they will no longer buy products with BPA epoxy can linings or substitute linings that may pose an equal or worse threat.