At this point, no company wants to be caught with a BPA-filled product. The chemical, which is found in food and drink can linings, water bottles, computers, and other products containing plastic, can cause numerous health problems—it mimics estrogen, for example, and that can lead to infertility and even cancer. Now the National Workgroup for Safe Markets has come out with a report (PDF) claiming that canned foods, many of which are labeled as "healthy" or organic, contain an average of 77 parts per billion (ppb) of BPA. When the FDA last tested canned food in 1996, it found found an average of 16 ppb, or almost five times less than the average level of BPA found in the NWSM report.
The NWSM conducted its research on 50 donated food and beverage containers from 20 people located in 19 U.S. states and Ontario, Canada. Cans containing fish, fruits, vegetables, beans, soups, tomato products, sodas, and milk were submitted from kitchen cupboards, pantries, and straight from local chain grocery stores. An FDA-certified lab in San Francisco evaluated the concentrations of BPA in the food within the cans, with some upsetting results: BPA was found in 92% of the canned food samples. NSWM found no correlation between the age of the product and the amount of BPA in the food, and BPA levels couldn't be predicted by price, quality, or nutrition value of the product.
The highest level of BPA—1,140 part per billion (ppb), to our knowledge the highest level ever found in the U.S.—was detected in DelMonte French Style Green Beans from a participant’s pantry in Wisconsin. Other high scorers included Walmart’s Great Value Green Peas from a store in Kentucky, and Healthy Choice Old Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup from a pantry in Montana. On average, the products contained 77.36 ppb of bisphenol A.
This doesn't mean that we should shun cans altogether. Instead, manufacturers could implement alternatives like metal can linings, polyester coatings, and even simple glass jars. They might have to, anyway, if legislation is passed to limit the amount of BPA in cans—not an unlikely event considering that the EPA recently added BPA to its chemical concern list.
Check out the full NSWM report below for more detailed information on the findings as well as a list of companies that are phasing out BPA.