BPA in canned foods

We found alarming levels of BPA in a range of canned foods – including baby foods.
 
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01.Introduction

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In brief

  • We tested 38 canned foods, covering major brands of baby food, baked beans, coconut milk, corn kernels, evaporated milk, ham, olive oil, pineapple, sardines, spaghetti, tomato soup, tomatoes and tuna.
  • Five samples contained more than 200 parts per billion (ppb) of Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical many experts now believe can cause serious health problems. A further 17 samples contained BPA at levels within the 10ppb-200ppb range.
  • We found higher levels of BPA than reported in similar tests overseas.
  • Of even greater concern, we found relatively high levels of BPA in some canned baby and infant foods.

You can take action by emailing Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing and tell him that you want all foods made for babies and toddlers to be BFA-free.

What we found

While none of the foods we tested contained BPA in excess of the European Union’s limit of 600ppm (there is no limit set in Australia), 33 of the 38 samples contained some BPA.

Just one serving of 29 of them would give a 70kg adult more BPA than some experts now believe to be a safe daily level of exposure (0.0024 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day). Those with the highest amounts of BPA (more than 200ppb) were samples of Edgell Corn Kernels, John West Tuna Olive Oil Blend and, particularly concerning, three canned baby or infant foods – all from Heinz.

We haven’t given actual BPA levels because:

  • Levels in the same product bought at a different time or from a different store could differ from our test results.
  • Our test only represents a snapshot of the market and doesn’t provide enough information to draw general conclusions about levels of BPA in any particular brand or type of product.
  • Our findings are of concern because they indicate the extent of potential exposure.

Genuine health concerns

Our national regulator, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), maintains that the very low levels of BPA in food pose no significant health risks. 

For adults, our dietary intake appears to be well below the daily upper limit of safe exposure set by the US Food and Drug Administration and European Food Safety Authority (50 micrograms per kilogram of body weight).

Infants and small children are at greater risk because of their small body weight and rapid growth. One serving of several of the infant foods we tested delivers about 50 micrograms of BPA in one hit, so a 10kg infant would get 10% of the safe exposure limit from this one source alone.

Worse, new scientific evidence is suggesting that the limit of safe exposure should be set much lower.

 
 

 

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