Find Out Which Canned Foods Are BPA-Free

Sunday, January 29th, 2012 | click here to comment

I must have been living under a rock until recently, because I just discovered that many of the canned items I consider staples in my pantry all contain BPA in the can lining. This led to me to a full on Virgo-induced frenzy of web searching to see if there were alternatives and luckily, in most cases, there are.

BPA is a major issue, and can cause harm in the still developing bodies of the very young, which was my immediate concern for making a sweeping change in my shopping habits moving forward. Things we take for granted, like canned tomatoes are the biggest offenders because the tomato acid leeches BPA from the cans.

I usually go out of my way to avoid BPA if I can, by buying BPA-free plastics, using glass Tupperware, etc. but I never suspected that cans were the biggest offenders out there. I’ve compiled a list of the most popular canned foods which contain BPA and a comparable list of BPA-free alternatives. I’ll continue to update this list as I discover more and welcome any additions or suggestions if you have any, just post a comment and let me know.

 

Coconut Milk

The big offender here is Thai Kitchen, which is the brand that is most readily available at most supermarkets. Don’t buy their coconut milk, they use BPA and seem to have no desire to change their cans.

Alternatives:

  •  Native Forest brand coconut milk is in BPA-free cans. I’ve been stocking up on their coconut milk whenever I see them. You can find them at most natural foods stores or online.
  • Depending on what you need it for, you may be able to use coconut milk bought from the dairy section of your supermarket in your cooking.


Tomatoes

Pretty much every brand is an offender here, including Eden Organic (canned only), but it’s due to the high levels of acidity in the tomatoes that make the BPA "necessary” according to the FDA.

Alternatives:

  • Buy your tomatoes fresh and make sauce from scratch with them.
  •  Look for tomato products packaged in glass jars.
  • Pomi, which comes in a box, is ok if you are looking for crushed or strained tomatoes, although their products are not organic.
  • Muir Glen notes that their canned tomatoes with expiration date 2013 or later are also BPA-free.  The only way to tell if it is a BPA-free can is to buy it and then look at the color of the liner inside. If the liner is white, it is a BPA can. If the liner is an off-white color (yellow, copper, redish, pinkish color), then it is a BPA-free can.
  • Eden Organic offers crushed tomatoes in glass jars
  • Thomas' Utopia Brand is also BPA-free


Beans

My beloved Goya beans are all packed in BPA cans, but fortunately there are many alternatives available for beans.

Alternatives:

  • All of the Eden Organic beans are packed in BPA-free cans. Many of the cans are labeled BPA-free as well.
  • Buy dried beans and rehydrate to prepare as you normally would. It requires more time, but the end result is the same.
  • Many beans are now available in boxes.


Fruits & Vegetables

I’m not one to lecture, but why buy canned fruits/vegetables? If you need convenience, opt for frozen, they at least retain more of their nutrients than their canned counterparts.

Alternatives:

  • Buy fresh – ‘nuff said.
  • Frozen fruits & vegetables are a great alternative and tend to retain more of their nutrients versus their canned counterparts.
  • Native Forest and Native Factor has several varieties of canned fruits and vegetables in BPA-free cans. The mushrooms are NOT in BPA-free cans.
  • Farmer's Market now has many canned vegetables, including pumpkin and butternut squash in BPA-free cans. 


Fish

I used to be a big Bumblebee Tuna fan, but with all of the mercury issues, I don’t eat tuna that often. The options below are all in BPA-free cans.

Alternatives:

  • Oregon's Choice lightly salted MSC certified Albacore (6 oz.)
  • Eco Fish also has canned albacore tuna packaged in a BPA free can.
  • Wild Planet has implemented BPA free packaging for both its 5 oz. skipjack tuna and its 5 oz. Albacore tuna products.

 

Kid’s Products

Amy’s, which has many great products, sadly uses cans that contain BPA, although I've seen some statements that said they expect to be using BPA-free cans as of February 2011. I haven't seen a press release or a statement on their company website so I wasn't able to verify its accuracy. Earth’s Best canned soups and ready to eat meals also come in cans containing BPA. Annie's products also contain BPA in their Cheesy Ravioli, All Stars, BernieO’s, Arthur Loops and P’sghetti Loops. 

Alternatives:

  • If you’re looking for convenience, try frozen products.
  • Prepare meals in advance for the little ones and freeze for later use. Kid's are most easily affected by BPA, so it's best to stay on the safe side and know exactly what you are making for them.

 

Soups

Don’t eat canned soup. People who ate canned soup regularly were found to have a 1,000 percent increase in BPA in their systems according to this report by CBS News. Soup is easy to make and usually requires very little time to prepare, plus you can freeze it for later.

Alternatives:

  • Boxed soups, but check the manufacturers site for the most updated information.
  • Campbell's recently announced that they are phasing BPA out of their canned products. There however is no set timeline for this, but keep an eye on them as this continues to develop.

 

Olives

Most canned olives contain BPA.

Alternatives:

  • Purchase olives in glass jars.
  • Get your olives from an olive bar (although you won’t be able to confirm the olives at olive bars came from BPA-free packaging).

 

Toothpaste

I haven’t been able to discern which brands definitely contain BPA, but it appears that toothpastes sold in metal tubes, ie. Tom’s of Maine, DO contain BPA. I’m not sure if the same applies for the plastic counterparts.

For a full list of BPA-free toothbrushes visit Safe Mama. Oral-B and some toothbrushes for kids sold at Whole Foods made the cut for being BPA-free.

For the Trader Joe’s die-hards out there, TJ’s canned corn, canned beans, canned fish, canned poultry, and canned beef are all packaged in BPA free cans. For the Whole Foods 365 product line fans, be wary. Whole Foods has neither confirmed nor denied that their 365 canned products contain BPA.


Other tips to reduce the impact of BPA in your life:

  • Don’t purchase any plastic products with recycle codes 3 or 7 on the bottom. If you currently have these types of plastics in your home, throw them out. Instead, purchase glass or stainless steel containers whenever possible.
  • Children are extremely susceptible to BPA. Ensure that all of the food and drink your child consumes is fresh or frozen – stay away from cans completely.
  • Don’t microwave plastics and don’t put them in the dishwasher. It’s a pain, but washing by hand is preferred.
  • This USA Today article talks about the big brands with BPA in their packaging and which are actively seeking alternative solutions.
*Update The FDA announced earlier this month (March 2012) its intention to reevaluate the safety of BPA in packaging and will decide whether BPA should be banned from all U.S. food and beverage packaging. 


 

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