Despite Concerns That BPAs Are Toxic To People, Chemical Still Lines Most Food Cans

Despite cries from the public to rid canned goods of their potentially harmful BPA (Bisphenol A) linings, a new study found that two out of three cans tested positive for the chemical.

But at least one food giant has explained the lingering presence of the possibly toxic BPA by saying that it’s taking longer to phase it out of their products that initially estimated. It’s also a massive undertaking, Campbell’s Soup Company told Fortune.

Further, the task of removing toxic BPAs from our canned goods isn’t very cut and dry, since some companies are replacing the lining with materials that are just as toxic.

Authorities are divided on whether or not Bisphenol A is really that harmful, and companies are removing it in response to pressure from consumers, not scientific data, according to the Guardian.

The study was conducted by a group of nonprofit organizations and included canned goods in both the U.S. and Canada. They tested 200 cans from Campbell, Del Monte, and General Mills and discovered that 67 percent (or 129 of 192) of the cans contained toxic BPAs. All of the Campbell Soup cans tested positive, and more than half the Del Monte and General Mills cans did as well.

Moreover, the majority of store-brand cans at grocery chains like Kroger and retailers like Target and Walmart also contained BPAs.

Campbell said the transition has been very challenging, since BPAs have been the standard lining for decades. The company is also trying to make sure the transition is cost-effective, wrote president Mark Alexander in a blog post.

“It’s not something that can be done quickly, nor would we want to.”

Toxic BPAs have been used since the 1960s and line packaging for both food and drinks. According to CBC News, the chemical lining prevents bacterial contamination and spoilage. But it has been known to taint the food inside the packaging, which is then consumed by people. The chemical is absorbed into the body.

In 2004, a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discovered traces of it in participants’ urine, some of them children.

The health effects caused by consuming the synthetic compound have been disputed. In 2014, the FDA said BPAs were safe after conducting a four-year review of 300 studies; Health Canada came to the same conclusion the same year.

But some studies have suggested that the chemical is quite harmful to the human body and can mimic estrogen, which can damage the female reproductive system and affect brain development in children. The chemical has also been linked to breast and prostate cancer, heart disease, adult obesity, behavioral problems including attention-deficit disorder, infertility, Type-2 diabetes, and asthma.

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Canadian neuroscientist Deborah Kurrasch said the scientific community is in agreement that BPAs are toxic and that even low doses are harmful. She said regulators haven’t acted swiftly to remove it from cans because they require more proof that it’s toxic.

That proof is piling up, she added.

And companies have responded. Campbell and Del Monte are both transitioning away from BPAs in their cans — the former by the middle of 2017 and the latter by October of this year.

“Our priority throughout this transition has been, and will continue to be, food safety,” Campbell said in a statement. “We have tested and conducted trials with hundreds of alternatives to BPA lining and believe the acrylic and polyester options will ensure our food remains safe, affordable and tastes great.”

But consumers may still not be satisfied, as alternatives aren’t exactly safer. A common replacement, BPS, has been found to have similar negative effects on the reproductive system and brain development.

[Image via isak55/Shutterstock]