An alarming new study from the Environmental Working Group analyzed samples of canned fruit, vegetables, soda, and baby formula on sale in the nation's supermarkets and found that more than 50% were tainted with a chemical linked to birth defects, ADHD and cancer. The chemical, bisphenol A (BPA), is an ingredient in plastics that lines food cans.

According to the study, the chemical has been leaching into foods at levels up to 200 times the government's recommended "safe" level of exposure. According to Dr. Frederick vom Saal, a professor of biology at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and a long-time expert researcher of BPA, there are 94 scientific studies indicating deleterious health effects from BPA. "If BPA was treated as a drug, it would have been pulled immediately. This chemical can be replaced right now by safer materials, and the public would never notice the difference."

OCA is planning to launch a campaign later this year to pressure food companies, especially organic companies, to stop using BPA-tainted cans and other toxic or non-sustainable packaging.

  • Metal canned beverages appear to contain less BPA residues, while metal canned pasta and soups contain the highest levels.
  • Canned foods in glass containers are not a BPA risk.
  • Plastics with the recycling labels #1, #2 and #4 on the bottom are safer choices and do not contain BPA.
  • One-third of liquid baby formulas have high levels of BPA. Powdered formula packaging is generally considered safer.
  • Avoid heating foods in plastic containers and do not wash plastic containers in a dishwasher.
  • When possible, opt for glass, porcelain and stainless steel containers, particularly for hot food or liquids.
  • Do not let plastic wrap touch your food in the microwave, or better yet, avoid microwave ovens altogether.
  • Many metal water bottles, such as those sold by the brand Sigg are lined with a plastic coating that contains BPA. Look for stainless steel bottles, such as those sold by Real Wear and Kleen Kanteen that do not have a plastic liner.