BPA

Posted by on Dec 19, 2010 | Comments Off on BPA

I’ll summarize here, just the basic info on BPA (Bisphenol A), and include reference links if you’d like more details and full reports. I’ll also include a list of problematic products to watch out for, and corresponding, safe alternatives.

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BPA, a chemical widely used in food packaging and various plastics, including toys, computers, baby bottles and medical equipment, is considered an endocrine disruptor that interferes with the body’s natural hormones. BPA can be especially damaging to the development of young children, even at very low levels of exposure. Scientists have been documenting risks of injury to children associated with BPA for years. When ingested over time, BPA can build up in the body and mimic estrogen, a key hormone in developing children. BPA is associated with illnesses such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, fertility problems, impaired sexual development, behavioral problems, liver problems, impaired learning, and birth defects. These findings have been documented in over 200 research studies.

When the health and safety of our children are at stake, officials should act with an abundance of caution (unfortunately, not always the case in the US).

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Several national legislative bodies have been looking into how to limit human exposure to this problematic chemical. Canada is the first country in the world that has classified BPA as a toxic substance and EU countries France and Denmark have banned BPA in baby bottles. Denmark has taken this one step further and extended the prohibition to all food products for children up to three years old. Bans are also in place in Australia. In the United States, BPA is widely used and still considered safe by the federal government.

Although the Federal government chooses to brush aside the BPA issue (at this point in time anyway), on the state level, a little progress is being made, most likely because consumers are demanding safer, BPA free products:

~ Vermont banned BPA in baby food, formula and bottles, and will restrict its use in metal food cans starting July 1, 2014

~ New York state banned BPA in bottles, sippy cups, pacifiers and drinking straws beginning December 2010

Certain manufacturers, including Philips Avent, Disney First Years, Gerber, Dr. Brown, Playtex and Evenflow, have also said they will stop making baby bottles that contain BPA, while several major retailers, including CVS, Kmart, Walmart, Toys R Us and Babies R Us are removing BPA-containing products from their stores.

So the good news is that there are plenty of resources available for you to find BPA-free alternatives for you and your family. Please support the companies that are removing this chemical from their products.  Letters and phone calls are great little “taps on the shoulder.”  On the other hand, taking money you used to give to company A and now giving it to company B is like a sledge hammer. It works pretty good  =)

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Before I list some of the details of which products to watch out for, I think it’s extremely important to understand what an enormous, immediate impact a few simple changes can accomplish….

In a recent landmark human study, published in the Environmental Health Perspective , five families got rid of all packaged foods from their diet for three days, during which time they ate only fresh organic foods stored in either glass or stainless steel containers.

The researchers evaluated each family member’s urine to see if abstaining from packaged foods would measurably alter their levels of bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates —two pervasive chemicals commonly found in plastic containers, the lining of metal cans, and a variety of other food wrappings.

And did it ever!

During their three-day organic-only stint, their BPA levels dropped by an average of 60 percent. Levels of DEHP (a phthalate used in food packaging) dropped by an average of 50 percent, and the highest exposures decreased a whopping 90 percent!

When the families returned to their normal processed food habits, their levels rose back to their original levels…These findings are incredibly important because it clearly shows what a tremendous impact you can have on your toxic exposure simply by avoiding processed pre-packaged foods.

Remember, those reductions were observable in just THREE DAYS of abstinence.

While it’s true that we’ll never be able to avoid all chemical exposure, this study demonstrates that even small steps in the right direction can decrease our exposure substantially.

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Here are some options to minimize exposure:

WORST OFFENDERS – INFANT FORMULA and CANNED FOODS:

~ BPA leaches into both liquid and powdered infant formulas, but liquid formulas are worse. If breast milk is not an option, use powdered formula.

~ Some food manufacturing companies use BPA FREE CANS. Here’s a listing of canned products that are safe to use (read the details, as sometimes only particular canned products from these companies are BPA free):

EDEN

All of Eden’s beans, bean & grain combos, and chilis are in cans with BPA free liners. However, due to their acidic nature, Eden’s tomatoes (and most of the industry’s canned tomato products) are still in cans with BPA liners.  After speaking to a representative of the company (12/17/10), I’ve learned that Eden is currently in the process of switching to glass jars (nice!).  (Scroll down for more info on tomatoes.)

http://www.edenfoods.com/

TRADER JOE’S

Trader Joe’s brand canned corn, canned beans, canned fish, canned poultry, and canned beef are all packaged in BPA free cans. However, any other products that contain those items — for example, soups or chilis — are not in BPA free cans.

NATIVE FORREST and NATIVE FACTOR

Edward & Sons has at least a dozen different products in BPA free cans. As long as you purchase Native Forest or Native Factor brands, the canned goods are BPA free. (Their canned products include asparagus, mushrooms, hearts of palm, pineapple chunks, crushed pineapple, pineapple slices, coconut milk, peaches, pears, mangosteen, rambutan & coconut water.)

http://www.edwardandsons.com/native_info.itml

VITAL CHOICE, OREGON’S CHOICE, WILD PLANET, & ECO FISH

Vital Choice cans MSC-certified salmon as well as albacore tuna, sardines and mackerel with BPA free liners. Oregon’s Choice canned last season’s catch of lightly salted MSC certified Albacore (6 oz.) in BPA free cans, and the company says it will over the course of the next two years move all of its canned fish to BPA free. Eco Fish has canned albacore tuna packaged in a BPA free can, and the company is planning to make the switch for its canned salmon once it finds a suitable can source. Wild Planet has implemented BPA free packaging for both its 5 oz. skipjack tuna and its 5 oz. Albacore tuna products.

http://www.vitalchoice.com/shop/pc/home.asp

https://www.oregonschoice.com/home.php

http://www.wildplanetfoods.com/

http://www.ecofish.com/

OPTIONS FOR CANNED TOMATOES:

MUIR GLEN

From the Muir Glen website: “Muir Glen has been working diligently with our can suppliers to develop and test alternative linings that do not use BPA, and we have successfully identified and tested an alternative that has proven safe and viable in our processing of tomatoes. We are transitioning to cans with liners that do not use BPA as we are canning this year’s tomato harvest.” (April 2010).  When speaking to a representative of the company, she told me that even though BPA has been a component of their cans for years, because they use thick, white, enamel liners, no BPA leaches into the food (they’ve tested this with their old cans).  However, due to customer concerns, they have made the switch to completely BPA free cans.  At this point, there’s no way to know if you’re buying the old can or the new can, as both labels look the same.  She told me that once ALL of the old tomato cans are gone (sold), new packaging will be used to indicate the cans are indeed BPA free, but still assured me that both the old & new cans are safe.

http://www.muirglen.com/news/n-10.aspx

POMI

Pomi tomatoes are packed in non-toxic tetra boxes which avoids the can/BPA issue entirely. Although far from local eats (coming all the way from Italy!) they are certainly the *real deal* when it comes to tomato products. No additives whatsoever.  Just tomatoes.  A very high quality product.  If interested, look (or ask) for them at your local health food store or order them from Amazon.  (Whole Foods carries them)

http://www.pomionline.it/

Next best option for packaged tomato products are those that come in glass jars. The only problem here is that the inside of the cap is often lined with BPA, and will leach if the food comes into contact with it (which is likely during transport). Still a better option though then most canned tomatoes since the BPA surface area is much smaller.  (FYI – The caps on Eden’s upcoming glass jars will NOT be lined with BPA.)

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In the works….

AMY’S

Amy’s, manufacturer of organic canned and frozen food products is not yet BPA free, but currently working on it (according to a representative of the company on 12/17/10).

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If you’d like to can your own tomatoes, these 2 jars are the best options:

~  Weck canning jars – They’re 100% glass (body & lid) with a rubber sealing ring and no lining.

http://www.weckcanning.com/index.htm

~  Ball canning/glass mason jars using plastic storage caps – The caps are BPA-free, freezer grade plastic.  I don’t personally can my own tomatoes, but have dozens of these mason jars in various sizes w/ plastic lids. I use them for a million and one different things!  The caps that come with the mason jars are metal & use a liner with BPA, so you have to purchase the plastic lids separately.  You can get them on amazon or here –

http://www.freshpreservingstore.com/product_list.asp?HDR=search&SEARCH=plastic%20storage%20caps

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Some other specific BPA free products I can recommend:

~ Vitamix 5200 – I’m a distributor for this awesome blender.  If you’re contemplating purchasing, feel free to use my distributor code which will entitle you to free shipping and gives me credit for the referral (thx!)….  06-004158

~ Hamilton Beach Food Processors (& all their kitchen products)

~ Preserve personal care, tableware, and kitchen products

~ Any plastic containers labeled #1, 2, 4, or 5 on the bottom of the container

~ Fresh Baby Covered Freezer Trays:  http://freshbaby.com/buy_our_products/milktrays.cfm

~ Beaba Babycook Food Processor

~ Kidco Baby Food Mill

Please feel free to comment with other specific BPA free products not listed here.

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In general, commonly used plastic products likely to contain BPA:

~ Baby bottles, sippy cups & pacifiers: Look for BPA free baby products.

~ Some hard plastic water bottles: Use unlined stainless steel bottles, nalgene, or better yet – my personal favorite – glass bottles with a silicone sleeve.  http://www.lifefactory.com/

~ Plastic silverware: Avoid if possible. Carry a travel utensil set in your purse or car so you have it on hand when needed.

~ Tooth sealants: Before having your or your child’s teeth sealed, ask the dentist to verify the sealant is BPA free.

~ Any plastic container labeled #7 on the bottom: (Numbers 1, 2, 4 & 5 are OK.)

~ Plastic wrap: Avoid if possible. Use glass storage containers with snap on lids instead. And of course, if you use a microwave, never use plastic wrap in it (or any type of plastic container for that matter).

~ Plastic and styrofoam travel coffee mugs: Use stainless steel, ceramic or glass instead.

~ Bottled water: If possible, invest in a home water filtration unit and use bottled water only occasionally when no other option exists.

~  Sales receipts:  BPA is on much of the shiny (thermal) paper that’s used to print sales receipts.  Of course, no one’s licking this paper (I hope), but the issue is absorption through the skin (which is sometimes worse than eating it).  Do we really need a receipt for the gas pumped into our car, the subway sandwich, the roll of stamps, or the birthday card we’ve just purchased?  Just say no thanks unless it’s an important purchase or something you need to be reimbursed for.

~ Plastic gallon milk bottles: Consider using half gallon cartons instead.

~ 5 Gallon water cooler bottles

~ Plastic toys: Use natural fabric covered toys as much as possible.

~ Lexan products

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References:

http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/info:doi/10.1289/ehp.1003170

http://www.ewg.org/bisphenol-a-info

http://www.ewg.org/phthalates/HowtoreduceyourexposuretoPhthalates

http://www.ewg.org/reports/bisphenola

http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/bisphenol-a-47091707

http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/61764/title/Receipts_a_large_—_and_largely_ignored_—_source_of_BPA

http://www.ewg.org/bpa-in-store-receipts

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704170404575624370143283324.html

http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science-a-environmental/20074-environmental-working-group-chemical-lobby-gets-its-way-in-us-senate.html

http://www.inhabitots.com/senators-side-with-the-chemical-industry-not-babies-on-the-bpa-debate/

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/03/7-bpa-free-canned-foods.php

http://blogs.mercola.com/sites/vitalvotes/archive/2010/03/04/companies-you-can-trust-to-use-bpafree-cans.aspx

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/12/11/us-senate-fails-to-protect-innocent-children-from-dangerous-plastic.aspx

http://www.chemsec.org/news/news-2010/652-european-commission-eu-ban-on-bisphenol-a-in-baby-bottles-next-year

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/05/10/7-ways-restaurant-menus-trick-you-to-spend-more.aspx


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