And you thought demonic candy was the worst of your worries?

Now there’s this:

Consumer Reports’ latest tests of canned foods, including soups, juice, tuna, and green beans, have found that almost all of the 19 name-brand foods tested contain measurable levels of Bisphenol A (BPA)….

BPA, which has been used for years in clear plastic bottles and food-can liners, has been restricted in Canada and some U.S. states and municipalities because it has been linked to a wide array of health effects including reproductive abnormalities, heightened risk of breast and prostate cancers, diabetes, and heart disease.”

The Endocrine Society, a medical group, has some additional warnings to share with us in this statement from mid-2009.

I try to avoid canned foods for this very reason, as well as nutritional reasons, but we do have canned soups in the house. I think they are nasty, but Mr. Lawyer likes them occasionally. We also stock canned organic tomatoes and red and kidney beans for quick soups and other dishes.

For those who choose to formula feed their infants, you should note that many baby formula containers are also lined with BPA which leaches into the formula. BPA-free baby bottles are now the norm, but how beneficial is that when the formula is stored in BPA for months before consumption?

So what are we to do with this information? How do we limit exposure, particularly with regard to young children and babies?

~ Heat food and beverages in ceramic or glassware rather than in plastic containers. I no longer heat in any type of plastic – I have a cabinet stocked with Pyrex that gets used daily.

~ Check all of your baby bottles, sippy cups, water bottles, and other reusable plastics and when buying food or drinks, avoid plastic containers marked #7 as a general rule:

BPA is found in polycarbonate plastic food containers often marked on the bottom with the letters “PC” recycling label #7. Not all #7 labeled products are polycarbonate but this is a reasonable guideline for a category of plastics to avoid. Polycarbonate plastics are rigid and transparent and used for sippy cups, baby bottles, food storage, and water bottles. Some polycarbonate water bottles are marketed as ‘non-leaching’ for minimizing plastic taste or odor, however there is still a possibility that trace amounts of BPA will migrate from these containers, particularly if used to heat liquids…Soft or cloudy-colored plastic does not contain BPA.”

~ For plastic servingware for children, look for a #5 code on the bottom – these are generally considered safe, though I personally heat in glass and then transfer to plastic bowls. Stainless steel bowls, while harder to find, are a good alternative, though obviously not microwave-friendly.

~ Choose fresh or frozen fruits, vegetables, and other foods over canned goods. Particularly acidic foods, such as diced tomatoes or pineapple will inevitably break down the BPA faster than other foods, and should be avoided proportionately. Some studies suggest that fatty foods (such as infant formula) will also break down the lining faster.

~ Breastfeed your infant. Of course there are a multitude of reasons to choose breastmilk over formula already, but since boobs aren’t lined with BPA, here’s just one more reason to add to the list. For those with adopted children, medical issues, or for those who choose to use formula, consider using glass bottles, avoid older or secondhand bottles unless you call the manufacturer to confirm they are BPA free, and most definitely avoid canned pre-mixed formula.

~ And lastly, if there is a product with BPA that you love, CALL the manufacturer and ask them to make their products safer before you will be able to buy them again. And urge friends and family members to do the same – Money speaks volumes.

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