Bisphenol A has been used to line cans since the '50s.

But seriously, the Natural Resources Defense Council is tired of waiting for the Food and Drug Administration to deal with Bisphenol A, a possibly endocrine-disrupting chemical. They have filed a lawsuit against the FDA for "its failure to act on a petition to ban the use of Bisphenol A (BPA) in food packaging, food containers, and other materials likely to come into contact with food. "

The NRDC petitioned the FDA in October, 2008, but they have failed to take any action on their request.

bpa tomato sauce

Bisphenol A Is In Your Tomato Sauce

According to the NRDC's Press Release:

BPA is found in wide variety of products, including the lining of liquid infant formula cans, soda or beer cans, fruit or vegetable cans, and pizza boxes as well as consumer products made from polycarbonate plastics, including baby bottles, sippy cups, and reusable water bottles. More than 93 percent of the general population has some BPA in their bodies, primarily from exposure through food contamination and other preventable exposures.

"BPA-free alternatives are already available and on the market. The FDA has no good reason to drag their feet on banning it," said Dr. Sarah Janssen, a senior scientist in the Environment and Public Health program at NRDC. "It's upsetting that food is most people's primary source of exposure to BPA. The FDA should act now to eliminate this unnecessary risk."

TreeHugger has noted before that BPA in polycarbonate bottles is relatively easy to get rid of; the marketplace has already decided that it doesn't belong in baby bottles and most manufacturers have replaced it in reusable water bottles.

It is not so easy in cans; the BPA epoxy linings extend shelf life and preserve flavour. Alternatives are more expensive and don't work with all types of food.chemical industry website notes:

"Alternatives for epoxy resins in can coatings are rather limited, but include polyester, polyacrylate, alkyd resins and polyvinyl chloride [PVC] organosols. None of these resins are exact drop-ins for epoxy," says [consultant Michael] Brown. "Each would require a substantial trade-off in cost, processability and potential capital investment for the can maker." He adds that some of the alternatives may even have their own health issues.

But there are alternatives in the works, and even the big food companies like Nestle and Heinz accept the inevitable. Advocates of eliminating BPA such as Emily Stone of Green Century Capital Management say:

"We found that nearly every packaged food company that we are in dialogue with is telling us that they will implement an alternative if they have one that works," says Stone. "There is an opportunity for the chemical industry to essentially save the day here by positively and visibly contributing effective resources to the efforts in finding BPA alternatives."

We have noted previously that the FDA had gone from a position of no concern about BPA to having "Some Concern." But Not Much. They are spending $30 million on research over the next two years while the industry scrambles; perhaps the NRDC lawsuit will get them off their butts a little faster. And once again, we repeat our recommendations:

Don't use canned baby formula:
All U.S. manufacturers use BPA-based lining on the metal portions of the formula containers. If you must use formula, choose powered or liquid in plastic bottles.

Don't eat canned food if you are pregnant. the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) says "We don't want to tell people not to eat canned beans or tomatoes," said CSPI nutritionist David Schardt. "But at the same time, it makes sense for all parents, and especially pregnant and nursing women, to minimize the exposure of their kids' developing bodies and brains to BPA."

Buy in bottles, not cans. Many products, like tomato sauces, are available in bottles as well as cans. Does that white epoxy on the inside of the metal lid have BPA? Probably, but there is a lot less surface area than the whole inside of a can. Other companies are introducing their products in Tetra-Paks instead of cans. While these have their own problems, they do not contain any BPA.

Start cooking instead of just heating. The fact that 17% of the American diet comes out of cans is just a scandal when we are surrounded by fresh food. Cook it from scratch and avoid the problem altogether.

Demand BPA-free cans. Not every manufacturer uses it; Some brands, like Eden Foods are BPA free. See a list of common brands and company responses at Organic Grace. Just like in the plastic bottle biz, the market, and WalMart, will be more effective at creating change than the regulators.

bpa canning

Is There Bisphenol A In Your Home Canning?
More on BPA and cans
BPA Danger may be greater from Tin Cans than Water Bottles
Drink Soda Pop? You're Drinking Bisphenol A (BPA)
Bisphenol A Is In Your Tomato Sauce
Is There Bisphenol A In Your Home Canning?
Consumers Reports Confirms Bisphenol A Leaches From Tin Cans
Don't Panic: New Study on Bisphenol A (BPA) in Cans Shows Nothing New
7 Companies You Can Trust to Use BPA-Free Cans

But seriously, the Natural Resources Defense Council is tired of waiting for the Food and Drug Administration to deal with Bisphenol A, a possibly endocrine-disrupting chemical. They have filed a

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