What we found

Last reviewed: December 2009

We tested for BPA in soup, vegetables, tuna, and other canned products as well as noncanned versions from leading manufacturers such as Campbell's, Chef Boyardee, Del Monte, Nestlé, and Progresso, among others. Using outside laboratories, we tested three samples of each product, all bought in the New York metropolitan area or online. In all but one case, the three samples were of different lot numbers.

Our tests convey a snapshot of the marketplace and do not provide a general conclusion about the levels of BPA in any particular brand or type of product we tested. Levels in the same products purchased at different times or places or in other brands of similar foods might differ from our test results. Nevertheless, our findings are notable because they indicate the extent of potential exposure: Consumers eating just one serving of the canned vegetable soup we tested would get about double what the FDA now considers typical average dietary daily exposure.

We found that the average amounts of BPA in tested products varied widely; most items showed levels from trace amounts to about 32 parts per billion. Products in that range included canned corn, chili, tomato sauce, and corned beef.

The highest levels of BPA in our tests were found in the canned green beans and canned soup. In Progresso Vegetable Soup, the levels of BPA ranged from 67 to 134 ppb. In Campbell's Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup, the levels of BPA ranged from 54.5 to 102 ppb. Canned Del Monte Fresh Cut Green Beans Blue Lake had BPA levels ranging from 35.9 ppb to 191 ppb, the highest amount for a single sample in our test. Since we didn't test other canned green beans or soups, we don't know if this is typical of those products.

A 165-pound adult eating one serving of canned green beans from our sample, which averaged 123.5 ppb, could ingest about 0.2 micrograms of BPA per kilogram of body weight per day, about 80 times higher than our experts' recommended daily upper limit. And children eating multiple servings per day of canned foods with BPA levels comparable to the ones we found in some tested products could get a dose of BPA approaching levels that have caused adverse effects in several animal studies.

Given the significance of BPA exposure for infants and young children, we tested samples of Similac Advance Infant Formula and Nestlé Juicy Juice All Natural 100% Apple Juice. Samples of the Similac liquid concentrate in a can averaged 9 ppb of BPA, but there was no measurable level in the powdered version. Samples of the Nestlé Juicy Juice in a can averaged 9.7 ppb BPA, but there were no measurable levels in the samples of the same product packaged in juice boxes.

Although BPA levels in that canned juice were not among the highest in the foods we tested, canned juice can account for a substantial amount of dietary BPA exposure in children who drink a lot of it. Drinking three servings per day of canned apple juice with BPA levels comparable to the levels found in our samples could result in a dose of BPA that is more than our experts' daily upper limit.