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Ingredients > Food safety and labeling

No risk from bisphenol A in canned food - Health Canada

By Rory Harrington , 04-Jun-2010

Exposure to bisphenol A from canned food poses no health risk to the general population, Health Canada has said after conducting a survey into levels of the chemical in 78 products.

However, the agency also pointed out that its results were “exploratory and should not be used to indicate the distribution of BPA in canned food products”. It added that its overall aim was to “limit human exposure to BPA to the greatest extent possible” by working with the food packaging sector to find out how the chemical migrates into food o food.

The body said its study of a range of canned tuna, soups, vegetable and tomato-based products from such companies as Campbell Canada, Loblaws, ConAgra and General Mills revealed only a low-level presence of BPA in the foodstuffs.

“The results of this survey confirm that exposure to BPA from canned food products is very low and poses no health or safety concerns to the general population,” said Health Canada.

BPA is used to make epoxy resins, which are used as protective linings on the inside of metal lids and containers.

Survey findings

Health Canada said it found BPA in almost all the 78 canned products tested. Canned tuna products had highest levels – with average and maximum BPA levels of 137 and 534 ng/g respectively. Canned soups had the second highest levels, with condensed soups exhibiting much higher levels that ready-to-eat varieties. Condensed soups had average and maximum BPA levels of 52 and 94 ng/g compared to 15 and 34 ng/g for RTE products.

Levels of the chemical in canned tomato paste products were found to be considerably lower. The average and maximum BPA levels for the tomato paste products were 1.1 and 2.1 ng/g, while they were 9.3 and 23 ng/g for the pure tomato products.

The body concluded that the average findings of BPA in the canned food products were consistent with those of past surveys and were not “considered to represent a human health concern”.

Industry response

The North American Metal Packaging Alliance (NAMPA) welcomed the survey results and said the findings confirmed industry research that BPA levels in metal-packaged foods are “negligible”.

“What is important about this latest survey from Health Canada is that once again, research conducted by a well respected international body has shown that the minute levels of BPA in canned foods do not represent any risk to consumers,” said NAMPA chairman Dr John M. Rost.

The industry group added that BPA-based epoxy linings are a vital food safety tool and no fully tested alternative had yet been found.

Last month, a report from National Working Group for Safe Markets (NWGSM) found an average level of 77 parts per billion (ppb) of BPA in canned food after testing 50 products. The highest level of the chemical - at 1,140 ppb - was detected in Del Monte French Style Green beans.

NAMPA dismissed the study on the grounds that the sample numbers were too small to be statistically significant and that the consumer group had failed to provide a complete picture to consumers.

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