Concern over canned foods

Our tests find wide range of Bisphenol A in soups, juice, and more

Last reviewed: December 2009

The chemical Bisphenol A, which has been used for years in clear plastic bottles and food-can liners, has been restricted in Canada and some U.S. states and municipalities because of potential health effects. The Food and Drug Administration will soon decide what it considers a safe level of exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA), which some studies have linked to reproductive abnormalities and a heightened risk of breast and prostate cancers, diabetes, and heart disease.

Now Consumer Reports' latest tests of canned foods, including soups, juice, tuna, and green beans, have found that almost all of the 19 name-brand foods we tested contain some BPA. The canned organic foods we tested did not always have lower BPA levels than nonorganic brands of similar foods analyzed. We even found the chemical in some products in cans that were labeled "BPA-free."

The debate revolves around just what is a safe level of the chemical to ingest and whether it should be in contact with food. Federal guidelines currently put the daily upper limit of safe exposure at 50 micrograms of BPA per kilogram of body weight. But that level is based on experiments done in the 1980s rather than hundreds of more recent animal and laboratory studies indicating serious health risks could result from much lower doses of BPA.

A bunch of packaged goods from our tests for Bisphenol A
In the lab  With the Food and Drug Administration poised to review rules on the plastic chemical Bisphenol A, we tested samples of a number of packaged foods to check levels of the compound and in some cases to see whether the type of packaging made a difference.