Friday, October 9, 2015

BPA or Bisphenol-A and our food

I'm a little late in learning about BPA - though I had heard about it for years, including the Nalgene bottle controversy from several years ago, but what I didn't realize is how much of our food comes in contact with BPA. And while moderation is key, if we are consuming food with BPA every day, that adds up, especially in little bodies.

Leonard Sax's 2010 Girls on the Edge: The Four Factors Driving the New Crisis for Girls really opened my eyes to some this - he recommends
In my opinion, if there is reasonable doubt about the safety of BPA, then we shouldn't use it. 
Avoid canned foods, particularly canned pasta, canned soup, canned beans, and canned tuna. In one recent study, 50 percent or more of these canned foods contained dangerous levels of BPA. Eat fresh or frozen foods instead.
Much of what he goes on to say is found elsewhere too - avoiding heating food items in plastic containers, avoiding placing plastics in the dishwasher, avoiding drinking hot beverages from plastic cups, and avoiding containers with the number "7" in the recycle triangle.

While I have heard about it in plastic items lots (and frequently see "BPA free" advertised), it was the food that really shook me, as I stood and looked at my pantry - canned soups, canned tomatoes, canned tuna... etc. Convenience food. Even though I was trying to choose "healthy" convenience food (is that an oxymoron these days?!), and I thought I was avoiding controversy by buying METAL containers, obviously not.   But then I wonder ... those that advertise as "BPA free", what other chemicals have they used to replace it with? And are these any better for us?

Forbes ran an article in 2012, "Campbell's Big Fat Green BPA Lie -- and the Sustainability Activists who Enabled It" by John Entine. OUCH. How many red labels are in my pantry? The article goes on to talk about that many organizations around the world have in fact found BPA "safe as commonly used" and Entine continues by discussing the alternatives used by natural or organic food companies for their cans, and basically they still use chemicals in their process. It's how we give food a shelf-life. It's how we keep the population safe from all of the food-bourne diseases, etc that come from improper food handling and management.

In 2008, the Government of Canada stated that:

Health Canada's Food Directorate has concluded that the current dietary
exposure to BPA through food packaging uses is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and infants.

However, due to the uncertainty raised in some animal studies relating to the potential effects of low levels of BPA, the Government of Canada is taking action to enhance the protection of infants and young children. It is therefore recommended that the general principle of ALARAFootnote 1 (as low as reasonably achievable) be applied to continue efforts on limiting BPA exposure from food packaging applications to infants and newborns, specifically from pre-packaged infant formula products as a sole source food, for this sensitive segment of the population.

WebMD states that:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration used to say that BPA was safe. But in 2010 the agency altered its position. The FDA maintains that studies using standardized toxicity tests have shown BPA to be safe at the current low levels of human exposure. But based on other evidence -- largely from animal studies -- the FDA expressed "some concern" about the potential effects of BPA on the  brain, behavior, and prostate glands in fetuses, infants, and young children.

So what's a mom to do?

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