BPA: Which foods are safe?

Q. I’ve heard that BPA can be in the lining of many canned foods and in the lids of jarred food. I am planning to get pregnant in the next couple of months so I’m trying to avoid BPA. Should I avoid all jarred and canned food? How can I find out which foods are bpa free and safe to eat?

A. The FDA sent out a confusing mixed message this week. On the one hand, the FDA officials admit they have concerns over the safety of BPA in food products such as canned goods and baby formula.

The agency says it supports “reasonable steps to reduce human exposure to BPA” and advises consumers not to fill containers made with BPA with hot liquids. On the other hand, the FDA has decided that BPA can remain in use while further study is conducted and tells parents to continue to use infant formula and baby foods because the benefit of “stable nutrition” outweighs the risk of BPA exposure.

Consumer watchdogs charge that the FDA is soft-pedaling the danger to consumers because they are not yet prepared to upset the plastics and food manufacturing industry by banning BPA.  My own review of the evidence makes me uncomfortable with the FDA’s laissez-faire stance–especially for pregnant women and small children who are probably at greatest risk from BPA exposure.

I’m also unconvinced by the industry’s reassurance that the level of consumer exposure is well below the government’s safety standards. Current research by independent scientists suggests that the safe exposure level may be as much as 20,000 times lower than these outdated standards permit.

Consumers who are unconvinced by the FDA’s reassurances have limited options for safer canned foods. One manufacturer (Eden Foods) offers some BPA-free canned goods and more BPA-free brands may emerge in response to consumer demand. Short of that, those wishing to avoid BPA should avoid all canned goods.    Fresh and frozen foods are good alternatives.

Tips on avoiding BPA exposure from foods and containers.

Interview with Technical Policy Director of Consumer Union


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