Consumption of canned foods is strongly associated with high concentrations of BPA, a chemical linked to several adverse health effects such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Many studies have been made on the matter, but a new paper published Wednesday in the journal Environmental Research reveals that canned soups and pasta contain the highest concentrations of BPA compared to vegetables and fruit.
BPA is commonly used to make resins that coat the insides of jar lids and food cans. High BPA exposure can also cause obesity and reproductive development problems and is widespread in the environment.
However, diet is the primary source of exposure to the chemical, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The new study suggests that canned beverages, meat, and fish are not linked to concentrations of the health-threatening chemical.
The research team at the Stanford University and Johns Hopkins University evaluated the most commonly consumed types of canned foods among the study participants and found that those who ate canned soup had 229 percent higher concentration of BPA than those who did not consume canned foods. As for canned pasta, it resulted in 70 percent higher levels. In contrast, canned vegetables or fruit led to 41 higher levels of BPA.
Study lead author Jennifer Hartle explained that a person who consumes a single can of cream of mushroom soup would probably have a greater exposure to the chemical than another person who eats three cans of peaches, for example. It’s worth mentioning Hartle is also a postdoctoral research fellow at Stanford University School of Medicine.
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She says canned soup is linked to higher BPA concentrations compared to other foods probably due to the heating soup needs to be processed, as well as the greater amount of fat it has. A canned soup needs a long cooking time to get all of the contents to the same temperature required to sterilize the product, Hartle noted.
As part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the study authors collected data on 7,669 people aged 6 and older between 2003 and 2008 in the United States. The analyzed data showed what each participant had consumed in the past 24 hours. That information also indicated whether BPA concentrations were detected in the urine sample of each of the participants on the same day.
“Urinary BPA concentrations are evidence of BPA exposure,” said Hartle, as quoted by CNN.
She recommends people to choose fresh, unpackaged foods rather than canned food in order to reduce their exposure to BPA. Hartle added that the chemical is no longer used in sippy cups and baby bottles in the U.S.
People who ate one canned food had 24 percent higher levels of BPA in their urine and those who had eaten two or more had 54 percent higher concentrations.
Gaild Prins, professor of urology, physiology and environmental health at the University of Illinois at Chicago, addressed the study’s relevance given that it provides new data to the discussion on BPA exposure. She was not involved in the survey.
“There has been contradictory data put out there, and this particular dataset is definitive in my mind,” Prins said, as quoted by CNN. “It’s the type of dataset that the field really needs, and it’s important because it does show that what we eat is affecting our BPA levels.”
Eating Canned Soup Makes BPA Levels Soar http://t.co/cFM1S1zX
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BPA levels still are safe
But these study findings should not raise alarms, according to John Rost, head of the North American Metal Packaging Alliance. He pointed out that consumers should be aware of the fact that these levels are well below a ‘part per million’ in the food they consume.
Although regulators worldwide have their guidelines on a safe BPA dosage, Rost added that recent reviews by the FDA had spread the idea that current exposures to BPA do not represent a health risk for any consumer. The European Food Safety Authority, Health Canada and several other regulatory bodies also waged in on these guidelines supporting the FDA.
Based on extensive research about BPA’s safety, the FDA has determined that current uses of BPA that have been authorized in the United States in food packaging are safe, as spokeswoman Lauren Sucher told CNN in a statement.
The daily exposure to the chemical should not be higher than 50 micrograms per kilograms of a person’s body weight, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.