Breast cancer group tests canned foods for BPA

Bisphenol A is a potentially toxic chemical used in food packaging.

by James Nord

Elevating its call to remove a potentially troubling plastic ingredient from canned food linings, a breast cancer advocacy group released a report Tuesday that condemned the use of Bisphenol A in food packaging.

The Breast Cancer Fund, which researches links between environmental causes and the disease, chose canned foods used in Thanksgiving dinners as its target. After having 28 cans of food independently tested, the group found four samples bought in Minneapolis contained the highest levels of BPA in their respective categories.

The use of BPA in consumer goods has stirred up trouble in recent years.

âÄúThis is something that the public isnâÄôt aware of, that this insidious chemical, this hormone disruptor, is getting into our food through can linings,âÄù said Kathleen Schuler, a senior policy analyst at the Minneapolis-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. âÄúIf we eat canned foods, we could get daily exposure âĦ weâÄôre most concerned about pregnant women and young children.âÄù

Advocates fear that BPA, first synthesized in the 1891 as a synthetic form of the hormone estrogen, could be linked to cancer, infertility, early puberty in females, obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Minnesota was the first of roughly 10 states to prohibit the manufacture of baby bottles and sippy cups with BPA, but it can still be used in formula can linings and other food products.

Some of the cans tested âÄî including those from Minnesota âÄî could contain levels of BPA that have been found harmful in laboratory tests, according to the report.

Pete Raynor, an associate professor at the University of MinnesotaâÄôs School of Public Health, said itâÄôs still unclear how serious BPA exposure is. He said laboratories expose animals to higher levels of the chemical than humans usually ingest.

Raynor teaches a graduate course in the School of Public Health that addresses the potential dangers of BPA.

Roughly 50 students were enrolled in the class, Exposure to Environmental Hazards, this year. Part of the curriculum includes making a poster near the end of the semester, and a few students typically choose to highlight BPA, Raynor said.

He called the reportâÄôs focus on Thanksgiving âÄúkind of amusing,âÄù but said the group was probably trying to make a point.