We know BPA is all around us, and the Centers for Disease Control tells us the chemical is in almost 95 percent of us. And we know that laboratory studies have linked BPA to breast cancer, along with a whole host of other serious health problems. But what is the leading source of the BPA that contaminates our bodies? If we removed that source, how much would our BPA levels drop?
The Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute conducted a study, published today in Environmental Health Perspectives, to find out. We enlisted five families for a week-long investigation. First, the families ate their normal diets. Then, we provided them with three days' worth of freshly prepared organic meals that avoided contact with BPA-containing food packaging, such as canned food and polycarbonate plastic. Finally, the families returned to their normal diets. We measured their BPA levels at each stage.
While the families were eating the fresh-food diet, their BPA levels dropped on average by 60 percent. Those with the highest exposure levels saw even greater reductions: 75 percent.
These groundbreaking results tell us that removing BPA from food packaging will eliminate our number one source of BPA exposure.
Here's a summary of the kinds of changes we made to the family's diets and how you can replicate them in your own kitchen:
- Switch to stainless steel and glass food storage and beverage containers.
- Move foods to ceramic or glass food containers for microwaving.
- Consider a French press for coffee - home coffee makers may have polycarbonate-based water tanks and phthalate-based tubing.
- Eat out less, especially at restaurants that do not use fresh ingredients.
- Limit canned food consumption. Download our 10 Canned Foods to Avoid wallet card for your next shopping trip. And share it with people you care about.
- Choose fresh fruits and vegetables when possible, and frozen if not.
- Soak dried beans for cooking (you can make extra and freeze them).
While we can take steps to reduce our BPA exposure, we need big-picture solutions to ensure that everyone is protected from this chemical. That's why we're telling industry and government that we want safe, non-toxic food packaging now. We're urging our elected officials to pass laws that will eliminate harmful chemicals from food packaging. We're demanding reform of the broken system that allows these chemicals to be in our food packaging in the first place. Thanks for lending your voice to this critical work.
Anyone figure out how to buy fruits and vegetables from the grocery store without having to use the plastic bags they provide to weigh the produce?Posted by: Ryan Nader | Nov 10, 2013 3:32:21 PM
Where in the USA can one purchase fresh whole organic coconuts that have not been dipped in harmful chemicals and don't cost an arm and a leg to ship? The packaged organic frozen fruit is sold in plastic bags. The inside of metal lids on glass jars of organic nut butters have a plastic seal. The keyboard of my computer is plastic. When I order organic seeds to grow sprouts and microgreens the box is shipped on a common carrier and I can smell fungicide. What solution is there to line the trash baskets in the home other than plastic grocery bags to be leakproof?Posted by: Frieda Gelber | Oct 10, 2013 10:54:29 AM
I will definitely choose Native Forest brand now, thanks Rebecca! And Kristine - buy tomato products in glass jars to avoid BPA.Posted by: glass jars | Jan 11, 2013 11:21:03 AM
Reducing BPA is good, but reducing the hormone effect regardless which chemical is better. According to this German study, Tetra Pak is not "estrogen free" -- not even for water (much less tomatoes?):
"The analysis of data according to the packaging material (Fig. 3a) demonstrates that the estrogenic contamination of mineral water bottled in plastic (PET and Tetra Pak) is significantly higher compared to that of water bottled in glass (phttp://publikationen.ub.uni-frankfurt.de/files/6628/fulltext_6.pdfPosted by: Dave R | Dec 12, 2012 5:07:24 AM
Native Forest brand coconut milk has no BPA in their can liners. They also have other canned foods available now. To me, coconut milk is too valuable a food to just give it up, and it's enough of a job staying on top of my kitchen right now without hand-making everything we eat as well. So it's nice that there's at least one alternative. I also like that NF is organic.Posted by: Dana | Nov 27, 2012 9:45:02 AM
Marian, thanks for your comment. Our understanding is that most Tetra packs do not contain BPA. Most manufacturers will label their tetra pack as BPA free or you can call the manufacturer while at the store. Hope this helps!Posted by: Safer Chemicals | Nov 26, 2012 3:08:14 PM
I don't know what to believe about tetra paks, which I use to buy stock and non-dairy milks. Do they have BPA or not???Posted by: Marian | Nov 26, 2012 3:02:37 PM
Someone else may have posted this, I don't have time to read all of the comments at this moment, but TETRAPAK contains PET, which is known to leach endocrine disrupting chemicals as well...
Just take the time on a Sunday afternoon or while you're watching TV to make some beans, or stew some tomatoes, or an hour to boil a roasted chicken carcass to make stock. You can freeze all of these things easily. Coconut milk can be made putting shredded coconut and very hot water in a blender and then pressing the resulting milk out through cheesecloth. It takes a little more time, but the lack of chemicals is, for me at least, worth it.Posted by: Sabrina | Oct 23, 2012 12:28:06 AM
For those of you asking about canned tomatoes, Pomi brand makes wonderful products in TetraPak containers: No BPA, NO preservatives, added colors, GMO’s, artificial flavors, added water, salt or citric acidPosted by: R | Oct 7, 2012 10:45:00 AM
For those of you that are concerned with the coconut milk, a brand called Chao Thai makes a dried powder form. You just add water and it mixes beautifully. It tastes exactly the same. You can find it in your local Asian market. I'm Asian and use it to make curries all of the time. I actually prefer it over the canned stuff.Posted by: marilyn | May 13, 2012 10:57:07 PM
Tomatoe tea is also good for sinusitis.Posted by: Dr Jessica | Feb 4, 2012 5:33:35 AM
It's really beneficial to understand in which getting rid of BPA within meals product packaging may have this effect! With regard to exactly what it is value, there is certainly a minumum of one make of coconut whole milk that's BPA-free.Posted by: Natural breast augmentation | Dec 13, 2011 9:45:22 AM
I do a lot of my own canning, because of the BPA, and use re-useable BPA-free canning lids.Posted by: Katie | Nov 15, 2011 9:55:34 AM
I appreciate the intent of this list, but it seems pretty comprehensive of all canned foods. Maybe it helps people to see a "Top 10" list of something to avoid, but what other canned foods are there besides the items covered on this list?Posted by: sharonus | Oct 11, 2011 1:42:24 PM
Great article! BPA seems very effective for healthy living. However, I hate plastic packing.Posted by: Stainless Steel Brisbane | Aug 10, 2011 7:52:30 PM
are cat canned food cans safe?? I read the lable & they say they are made of aluminum. The interior of the cans look like they have a dark yellow film.Posted by: sheerie | Aug 4, 2011 5:45:18 PM
This is an excellent article and call to action! Most of the food choices I make are for fresh & whole organic real foods. We cook beans from scratch, so easy to freeze extra. As for freezing, we store & freeze our food in glass contaners. There are only a few other canned items we buy. I'd been hesitant to purchase canned coconut milk, but I have a recipe I just LOVE that uses a whole can of it in strawberry chia seed pudding! I will definitely choose Native Forest brand now, thanks Rebecca! And Kristine - buy tomato products in glass jars to avoid BPA.Posted by: Kathy | Jun 7, 2011 1:23:15 PM
Posted by: Amy O | Jun 7, 2011 12:24:18 PM
re: coconut milk. If you can buy the young thai coconuts fresh you can make a very simple substitute for canned coconut milk. Just open the coconut, scrape out the meat and water into a blender, blend and use. It's very yummy in recipes or just raw!
Eden's beans are BPA free, but their & Muir Glen's tomatoes still have BPA. The only "BPA free" packaging I found for tomatoes was Pomi's tetrapak (which is apparently still not 100%, but a lot better than cans).Posted by: Bridget | Apr 23, 2011 4:00:23 PM
in germany they proved that major supermarket aka grocery stores have BPA in the bills. only some few have no BPA layers on the bills. So if you pay your food in the stores the bill you get is probably layered with BPA. IT depends on the country you working on. Also if oyu work in offices whith laser printers or copy shops are very harmfull through thier gases. and the EMF field they generate. Stay healthy keep moving eat greens eat fruits eat good and live how long you wish.Posted by: fruit | Apr 22, 2011 4:02:02 AM
Here's a link to an article on Treehugger listing 7 companies that use BPA-free cans!Posted by: Micaela @MindfulMomma | Apr 4, 2011 12:00:12 PM
I have a question regarding plastic packaging. Frozen vegetables and fruits are kept in plastic, is that to be avoided too? What about pasta in plastic packaging (also very common)?
2nd question is regarding to canned goods. I don't consume any at all, but are all canned goods bad?
What about tetra-packs? (seems I can't find drinks that aren't in them anymore)
Thanks!!!Posted by: Naia | Apr 3, 2011 5:53:34 AM
No way can I give up coconut milk! I love my Thai food too much!!!Posted by: Mary G. | Apr 1, 2011 10:22:41 AM
Is this really news to people? Is this not obvious? What has happened to people's ability and willingness to think for themselves and to choose real fresh foods, and to know where the farmer's markets are where they can eat local, and to perhaps grow at least some of their own foods?Posted by: Jan | Apr 1, 2011 7:51:06 AM
Are there any tomatoes in cans w/o BPA? I rely on those through the winter for spaghetti sauce, stew, etc.Posted by: Kristine | Mar 31, 2011 10:49:32 PM
I appreciate that the Breast Cancer Fund is providing information and tools to help people avoid BPA, which is a toxic chemical that I am concerned about. I understand that some companies use BPA-free cans for canned food. (See the "No Silver Lining" report on www.contaminatedwithoutconsent.org) It seems to me that this information should be incorporated into your website and list of top 10 foods to avoid. I think the message should be to avoid buying these top 10 canned foods specifically from companies that use BPA in their cans.
Regarding the top 10 foods list, am I correct in understand that foods were ranked 1-10 based on the BPA levels in a certain sample size? While I can see the logic to this approach, that would not take into account the fact that people are likely to consume greater portions of some foods than others. I mean, is anyone going to drink the entire can of coconut milk? It seems to me that people will likely consume a larger amount of fruit juice than they would coconut milk, for example. A better way to rank foods might be by the amount of BPA in a typical serving rather than in a standard sample size. I may be misunderstanding the approach that was taken. Thank you for any clarification you can provide. And a big thank you for supporting toxic chemical reform at the national level!Posted by: Liz Zimmerly | Mar 31, 2011 9:26:58 PM
Eden Foods uses BPA free cans. They got the Ball corp to go back to the old Pre-BPA resins for the can interiors back in 1999.Posted by: K Koesler | Mar 31, 2011 3:17:56 PM
Thanks - This is very helpful. It's good to know that eliminating BPA in food packaging will have such an impact! For what it's worth, there is at least one brand of coconut milk that is BPA-free (Native Forest, and the same goes for beans (Eden and Trader Joe's)...We still prefer to cook our own beans instead of buying canned, but I love the BPA-free coconut milk; that's harder to make from scratch where we live!Posted by: rebecca | Mar 31, 2011 3:17:32 PM