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Are Chemicals in Canned Foods Safe?

A coalition of nonprofits has released a report saying chemicals in the lining of canned food items that you have in your cupboard may be dangerous. (Virginia Carter)
A coalition of nonprofits has released a report saying chemicals in the lining of canned food items that you have in your cupboard may be dangerous. (Virginia Carter)
March 31, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Chemicals in the linings of most food cans may be dangerous to consumers, according to a new report released jointly by six nonprofit groups.

They tested nearly 200 cans from 19 states distributed to some major retailers by producers, including Campbell's, Del Monte and General Mills.

Mike Schade, Mind the Store campaign director for the group Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, said two-thirds of the cans were lined with an epoxy containing Bisphenol A (BPA), an endocrine-disrupting chemical.

"This is a chemical that is in the food packaging," said Schade, "and studies have shown that it can migrate out of the cans and get into the food that we eat, eventually make its way into our bodies and may be harmful to our health."

The report recommends that consumers buy fresh fruits and vegetables, look for alternative packaging, such as glass jars, or buy only from manufacturers that disclose the safety of their can linings.

As Schade pointed out, the health consequences of exposure to BPA can be serious.

"Studies have linked exposure to BPA to breast and prostate cancer, infertility, diabetes, obesity and other serious health problems on the rise," he said.

Just two days before the report was released, Campbell's announced it will be packaging all its products for sale in the United States and Canada in BPA-free cans by mid-2017.

But Schade said simply getting rid of BPA in the can linings is no guarantee of safety, as some companies are substituting other ingredients that may also be harmful.

"We found other toxic materials, like PVC plastic and styrene-based resins, in the can linings of many popular brands," he noted.

The report calls on retailers and manufactures to commit to eliminating harmful lining materials, and disclose the safety data about the chemicals used in packaging.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MO