More Americans Drinking BPA in Canned Beer, Thanks to Economy and Pabst Drinking Hipsters

Bloomberg/Screen capture

Bisphenol A, or BPA is the gender-bending endocrine disruptor that has been variously blamed for contributing to heart disease, obesity, reduced penis size, even making girls mean and making you stupid and depressed.

It's a hormone, and some studies show that the tiniest amounts can affect you. People threw away their polycarbonate bottles for metal to avoid it, and then the SIGG company was pretty much destroyed when it was discovered that it had sold bottles with an epoxy lining made with BPA. Consumers Reports confirmed that BPA leaches out of cans.

And yet the Consumerist, owned by Consumers Reports, blithely posts today that We Are Apparently In The Midst Of A Canned Beer Renaissance, based on a Bloomberg story that says "The frosty can of beer is making a comeback in the U.S. as the recession and proliferation of smaller breweries drives demand away from bottles and draft."

The reason that beer doesn't taste like the can anymore is that they are lined with epoxy and that epoxy is made with BPA. The brewers admit it; New Belgium even says " we respect everyoneâs right to choose their own level of acceptable risk." One of the craft canners admitted in TriplePundit that " Unfortunately all aluminum beverage cans use liners containing BPA, as well as most food product cans, so there's no escaping it at the present time."

Government of Canada/Public Domain

The Canadian Government studied it, and found BPA leached out of the cans into the beer. The amounts are small, but they are detectable. The study notes:

In view of uncertainties related to possible neurodevelopmental and behavioural effects that BPA may have in experimental animals, Health Canada’s Food Directorate has recommended that precaution be exerted on products consumed by the sensitive subset of the population, i.e. infants and newborns, by applying the ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) principle to reduce their exposure to BPA through food packaging applications.

Now you might point out that infants and newborns don't drink beer. But nonetheless, the fact of the matter is that it is probably good advice for anyone. The way to avoid BPA in beer or any canned food is to simply to avoid cans, since there is no effective and affordable substitute yet.

Lloyd Alter with info from Heather Rogers/CC BY 2.0

Ultimately, the real green answer is to start being like the rest of the world and using returnable and refillable bottles. But as I noted in an earlier rant on the same subject,

The dominance of the American beer can is a story of the victory of centralized mass production instead of local, big business destroying small, the change from a reusable container to a disposable one, the switch from short-range shipping of a locally consumed product to the logistics of nationwide diesel transport, from healthy glass to BPA epoxy lined aluminum cans.

It's your choice.

Tags: Beer | Bisphenol A | Economics