HEALTH NEWS

Consumer Group Says Canned Foods Still Contain Dangerous Chemical

Written by David Mills on May 17, 2017

canned food

It might not just be the ingredients in that can of food that pose a health risk.

It might also be the can itself.

That’s the warning out today from a California consumer health organization.

The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) has released a report called Kicking the Can.

In it, CEH officials say that 40 percent of canned goods they tested earlier this year contained traceable levels of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA).

That chemical has been linked in past research to birth defects, as well as breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

The percentage of cans containing BPA is down from the 67 percent recorded in a 2015 test, but CEH officials are still sounding a consumer alarm.

“These companies have known for years that BPA is a serious health threat, yet too many of their food cans still contain this dangerous chemical,” Caroline Cox, research director at CEH, said in a statement. “Americans deserve safe food for their children and families. It is past time for grocery retailers and dollar stores to end this health threat and develop safer alternatives for canned foods.”

Officials at Albertsons Companies, one of the retailers listed in the study, said they are working on it.

“The safety and wholesomeness of our products is a primary focus. While there is not one universal type of canned packaging that is effective and safe for all products, where possible, we are utilizing alternative linings and other product packaging for many of our shelf-stable products,” the company said in a statement emailed to Healthline.

Read more: Fruit and vegetable safety »

Testing the cans

CEH researchers tested 250 canned food items they had purchased between January and April.

The cans were bought at stores in 11 states. The majority were purchased at four national retailers: Kroger, Albertsons/Safeway, Dollar Tree, and 99 Cents Only.

The researchers reported that 40 percent of those cans showed levels of BPA in their linings.

In addition, 19 percent of the cans contained PVC plastic.

Researchers said 36 percent of Albertsons’ and 33 percent of Kroger’s “private label” food cans contained BPA.

“The nation’s two largest grocery chains, Kroger and Albertsons, have the power to drive toxic BPA out of food packaging and safeguard our health,” Mike Schade, Mind the Store campaign director for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, said in a statement. “While this new report shows that some progress had been made, it underscores the need for retailers to commit to completely phase out BPA, ensure substitutes are safe, and develop systemic safer chemical policies.”

Researchers were also concerned that cans purchased at dollar-type stores were more likely to contain BPA.

“Now more than ever, we need dollar stores to reduce our exposure to toxic chemicals found in some food containers and household items they sell. Often, the only place for people of color and low-income communities to shop is at these discount retailers. It’s time for all retailers to double down and protect the most vulnerable,” José T. Bravo, coordinator of the Campaign for Healthier Solutions, said in a statement.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has placed limits on the amount of BPA in food items, but in 2014 the agency declined to strengthen those restrictions.

Read more: Chipotle outbreak highlights how easily norovirus can spread »

The campaign against BPA

The CEH isn’t the only organization with a public campaign to eliminate BPA.

Over the past year, members of Mind the Store have delivered more than 150,000 petitions to Kroger, and 130,000 petitions to Albertsons, about the levels of BPA in their products.

In addition, a report titled Buyer Beware was released last year by the Breast Cancer Foundation, the Campaign for Healthier Solutions, Clean Production Action, Ecology Center, and Mind the Store.

In it, the groups detailed what they consider to be the health dangers associated with BPA and some of its substitutes in canned food items.

The campaigns have attained some success at a variety of levels.

Last month, CVS Health announced it was removing certain chemicals from 600 of the company’s beauty and personal care products.

In January, officials at Target announced they were implementing a new, safer chemicals policy for products at their stores.

Representatives from Kroger did not respond to Healthline’s request for comment on this story.

The Albertsons officials said they continue to work to produce safer products.

“We are also working with food manufacturers to find more alternatives that are viable across a broad spectrum of products. We will continue to work with the industry to identify viable alternatives as they become available,” the company statement said.

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