Campbell's Soup recently announced that they plan to remove a hormone-disrupting chemical from their soup cans. The move can't come fast enough, as consumers, especially young mothers, are running so quickly from the canned food aisles that sales are dropping.
And it's causing an upheaval in the food industry. Because even though federal regulators like the FDA (underfunded and dependent on industry-funded research) maintain that it's safe ("pink slime" was deemed safe, too), moms are having nothing to do with it and canned food sales are dropping, impacting everyone along the food chain including the chemical companies making the linings for the cans.
So what's the big deal? Most of us grew up eating cans of Spaghetti-Os and ravioli and turned out fine, right?
Well, in April 2008, the National Toxicology Program raised concerns that exposure to this chemical, bisphenol A (BPA), during pregnancy and childhood could impact the developing breast and prostate, hasten puberty and affect behavior in American children. In October 2010 in the Journal Reproductive Toxicology, another study demonstrated that in utero exposures to BPA cause precancerous prostate lesions in animals. And a Harvard School of Public Health team found elevated BPA measurements in pregnant women who eat canned vegetables daily, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
In other words, it could have some pretty unintended consequences for our loved ones, especially the little ones.
Days after the 2008 study, the Canadian government decided to label BPA as "toxic."
And yet here in the United States, almost four years later, it appears we have literally kicked the can down the road under the premise that it has not yet been proven dangerous. Stunning, because while hundreds of studies demonstrate the toxicity of BPA, "Industry scientists have persisted in raising questions about the research methods of independent scientists," reports EWG.
Money can't buy you love, but if the tobacco industry is any indicator, it seems it can certainly buy you a favorable study or two.
So while the French have banned BPA in all food packaging materials, not just in baby bottles, not just in cans of infant formula, but in packaging materials for the "grown ups" too, the question becomes: "What in the world are we doing eating food that is marinating in this stuff?"
Well, despite the fact that we live in the age of technological innovation and rapid design change, alternatives seems to be painstakingly slow. So while companies are admitting that they are moving away from cans with BPA, they cannot commit to when they are getting there or exactly how, because the can industry does not yet seem to have a solution.
So what's a consumer to do? Well until the food industry realizes that we'd be happy to have our soup in a different kind of package or our colas in a bottle (the way we used to), there is a lot that can be done. And you can get savvy with these eight simple tips:
- Infant Formula: All U.S. manufacturers use BPA-based lining on the metal portions of the formula containers. Choose powdered formula, which may not have BPA in packaging and which is more diluted with water.
- Choose Wisely: Canned pasta and soups contain the highest levels.
- Savvy Sipper: If you are a soda drinker, opt for a glass bottle over the can
- Check the Color: Soft or cloudy-colored plastic does not contain BPA.
- Mindful Microwave: Avoid the use of plastic containers to heat food in microwaves. Use glass.
- Lend your voice: The American Chemistry Council announced that it has asked the FDA to revise its regulations to "clarify for consumers that BPA is no longer used to manufacture baby bottles and sippy cups and will not be used in these products in the future."
- Share Your Concern: The FDA plans to decide within the next month whether or not to continue allowing food packaging that leaches BPA. Concerned? Then let them know and share your stories with the FDA.
- Sweat: The best line of defense might just be a good offense, so throw on that sweatshirt and sweat out the toxins.
Because disease doesn't know party lines, and if our babies are being born pre-polluted with this chemical while other countries opt out, it doesn't matter what side of the aisle you are on. And together, we can create the changes we want to see in our food system.
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