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New Study Warns Consumers of Risks Related to BPA in Food Cans

May 26, 2010

LANSING, Mich. - Savvy consumers know about Bisphenol A (BPA) as a component of plastic bottles, and manufacturers now tout "BPA Free" labels, especially for baby bottles. However, exposure to the harmful chemical isn't limited to plastics. BPA is also found in canned food, and a new study looks at how much exposure consumers are getting.

According to Mike Shriberg, director of The Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, the synthetic chemical is used as a lining to extend the life of cans containing food.

"It actually acts like a hormone within your body, and it has a whole wide range of effects. It blocks the body's normal functioning, even at low doses, and it's been linked with things like obesity, neurological problems, cancer, infertility and thyroid malfunction."

Shriberg says multiple studies show even low doses of BPA can be harmful. The Michigan Legislature is considering a bill to prohibit the use of BPA in baby food and infant formula cans. But dozens of organizations, including the Learning Disabilities Association and the Breast Cancer Fund, want more a stringent, federal ban.

Shriberg says the can manufacturing industry is addressing the issue with double-speak.

"On the one hand, they won't say necessarily that it's conclusively safe, but they say the jury is still out and, 'We need to conduct more studies, but we're going to be moving away from doing this on our own.' 'Don't make us do this, we'll do it on our own time (and) conduct more studies.'"

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has indicated concern about BPA, but has yet to make a final decision on its status as a public health threat. Six states currently ban BPA in food containers.

Amy Miller/Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - MI