Yet Another Gotcha: Canned Food

My Bigger Half and I are so clever! Yes, it’s true, we are. We learned about the problems with using plastic for drinking water from, storing food in, and using in our toys and shopping bags, and quite, or at least greatly reduced, our use of plastic. I sat on my smug laurels, and my backside, gloating over how good we were, missing one area we’d missed. You have probably missed the same thing because it’s not visible to you either.

Canned foods. (Oh no! My emergency food supplies are mostly canned.) Well, if they are canned how are we missing the plastic link? Because most cans used in food storage have a plastic lining. And not just any plastic lining, but with BPA and phthalates!

BPA and phthalate are the worst of the plastics — well, probably not the worst, but awfully darned bad — to have in contact with your food. If you were eating fresh, whole foods this wouldn’t be of the least concern to you. But some of the foods we cherish are canned. And, if you are stocking food in your larder for emergency situations, you will rely on canned foods too, unless you are more dedicated than even I am and make all of your own preserved food items, thus controlling what they are stored in.

Surely, you must be thinking, that little bit of plastic — if it’s even there — can’t be all that bad. Or can it? I even ask myself that question, and challenge My Bigger Half to consider the issue. Then I began my research in earnest.

A Bit About Plastic
BPA and phthalates are found in canned foods and sodas And it’s also found in food microwaved in plastic. You’ll find it in lots of types of plastics, but I’m focusing on canned foods in this article so will live only the warning of all of the plastics in your life. DEHP, a phthalate, is added to plastic to make it more flexible.

BPA and phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals and impact the hormone system. BPA mimics estrogen, and can effect the developing brain, reproductive system, and mammary and prostate glands. Some phthalates have been found to interfere with reproductive development, especially in men. Using products that are free of those two families of chemicals goes a long way toward cleaning up your body, but going further will help more. Cut as much plastic out of your life as possible because all plastics contain estrogenic activity (EA) and harmful chemicals that leach into your food and body. russian food store

One study found that by eating only whole, natural foods — no processed foods — BPA and DEHP levels dropped by 50 and 60 percent within two days. The levels didn’t drop lower because of the amount of plastics in our lives that we come into contact with regularly. The implication is that people can reduce their exposures by eating foods not purchased or stored in plastic or cans, and by choosing restaurants that serve only whole natural foods.

Another study found almost all commercially available plastic products leached chemicals having detectable EA. It didn’t matter what product, type of resin, or retail source was tested, even those claiming to be BPA-free, they all released chemicals mimicking estrogen. This is important to know because the “non-BPA” claims probably don’t mean you are avoiding EA chemicals, only BPA.

Many of the estrogen-mimicking plastics have been banned around the world from children’s toys, bottles, and sippy cups. But laws haven’t been passed protecting adults from the same chemicals. Bureaucratic and political delays keep proposed legislation on hold, even with the EPA campaigning about the hazards of the problems. If our laws aren’t protecting us from the obvious plastic hazards you know we aren’t being protected from the hidden hazards, like those found lining cans.



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