For years, bisphenol A (BPA) has sparked controversy about its impact on human health and development. Last month, the Grocery Manufacturers Association created a database of food and beverage products with packaging that could expose people to this controversial chemical.
The database contains a staggering list of 12,000 snacks, drinks, and alcoholic beverages that are likely to contain bisphenol A. Scientific studies still have not established how much BPA is contained in each item of this list.
Nevertheless, the number of food and beverage products on this list is overwhelming.
Bisphenol A Chemical
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical produced in large quantities for use in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins.
Polycarbonate plastics are used in some food and beverage packaging — like water and infant bottles, medical devices, and compact discs.
Epoxy resins are used as lacquers to coat metal products — like bottle tops, water supply pipes, and food cans.
How BPA Gets Into the Body
According to the National Institute of Environmental Sciences, the primary source of exposure to bisphenol A for most people is through their diet.
The health agency briefly notes the use of bisphenol A and the chemical’s link to adverse health conditions.
“Concerns about potentially negative health effects from exposure to bisphenol A in many consumer products have led to action in state legislatures. Known as BPA for short, bisphenol A serves as a hardening agent in a number of plastic products. It is used in baby bottles, sippy cups, and medical and dental devices and as coatings for food and beverage cans. New research has linked BPA exposure to accelerated puberty and an increase risk for cancer, heart disease and diabetes.”
Bisphenol A can leach into food from the protective internal epoxy resin coatings of canned foods and from consumer products — such as, baby bottles, water bottles, polycarbonate tableware, and food storage containers. BPA can also be found in breast milk.
Other possible ways to be exposed to BPA is through the air, dust, and water. But, daily consumption of beverages and food is how most people are exposed to bisphenol A.
New Data Finds BPA in Common Snacks
In addition to the 12,000 food products and beverages noted in the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s list, the research and advocacy organization, Environmental Working Group (EWG), analyzed the food and beverage industry’s data and found nearly 4,000 more products that may contain bisphenol A.
In order to make it easier for online searching, EWG has created an industry database with close to 16,000 processed foods and drinks that are “…packaged in materials that may contain the hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol A, or BPA.” The 16,000-plus products come from 926 brands.
The industry list includes more than 8,000 soup, vegetable, sauce and fruit products, nearly 1,600 tomato products, more than 1,400 beverages and more than 500 meat and seafood products. Goya Foods, Inc. and Campbell Soup Company each have over 1,000 products listed.
Here are 10 common snacks on the list:
- Starbucks Frappuccino Chilled Coffee
- Jif Creamy Peanut Butter
- Trader Joe’s Kosher Dill Pickles
- Mott’s Apple Sauce, — containers with plastic and metal lids
- Simply Tostitos Organic Chunky Salsa
- Hershey’s Special Dark Fudge Topping
- Smucker’s Natural Fruit Spread
- Pabst Blue Ribbon beer
- Nabisco Easy Cheese — spray can
- Cool Whip Topping — aerosol cans
Everyone has a right to know what’s in his or her food and beverages — especially when it comes to bisphenol A. Food packaging is the largest source of exposure to bisphenol A.
Some animal studies suggest that infants and children may be the most vulnerable to the adverse effects of BPA. In 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it had “some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants and young children.”
Here’s information for you if you want to limit your exposure to BPA:
- Plastic containers have recycle codes on the bottom. Some plastic containers marked with recycle codes 3 or 7, may be manufactured with BPA.
- Do not put very hot or boiling liquid that you intend to consume in plastic containers made with BPA. BPA levels tend to rise in food when containers/products made with Bisphenol A are heated and come in contact with the food.
- Discard all bottles with scratches. They are a haven for bacteria and can easily release Bisphenol A, if the bottle was made with the toxic chemical.
- Don’t microwave polycarbonate plastic food containers. Polycarbonate is strong and durable, but over time, it may break down from overuse at high temperatures.
- Reduce your use of canned foods.
- When possible, use glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers, particularly for hot food or liquids.
- Use baby bottles that are BPA free.
Bisphenol A has been linked to a number of adverse health disorders, including cardiovascular, nervous and brain abnormalities, infertility, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and other serious health outcomes.
Environmental and public health advocates continue to petition for nationwide legislation that establishes what level of exposure to BPA is safe for consumers, and laws that would require bisphenol A to be disclosed on food and beverage product labels.