Behind the Brand Curtain
BPA in Canned Food: Companies do not generally label their BPA-free canned food products
Many companies informed EWG that they no longer used BPA-based metal cans, but they have not publicized this information. Some companies such as Amy’s Kitchen, Inc., Euro-USA Trading Co., Inc., Farmer’s Market Foods, Inc., Natural Value, Inc. and Crown Prince, Inc. use can labels that say “BPA-free.” Blue Marble Brands’ Field Day brand pledges on its website (accessed April 2015) to identify its BPA-free products on the label when it switches to BPA-free packaging. Faribault Foods, Inc. reports on Facebook that new labels for its S&W Beans’ organic beans were expected to come on the market May 2013.
One problem is that regulatory or industry-wide accountability measures do not exist to ensure that BPA-free labeling is credible. Companies are free to claim that their cans are BPA-free, armed with little more than certificates and assurances from their suppliers. In some cases, companies may believe they are buying BPA-free cans, but when independently tested, these cans are discovered not to be BPA-free (Hannah Stonecypher, personal communication, February 5, 2014; Vital Choice Wild Seafood & Organics, Inc. 2015; Consumer Reports 2009b), demonstrating the need for oversight.
Some companies define BPA-free loosely. Independent testing has found BPA in supposedly BPA-free cans in amounts ranging from less than 1.0 ppb to 200 ppb – the high range of BPA concentration commonly found in canned foods (Amy’s 2015, Hannah Stonecypher, personal communication, February 5, 2014).
A BPA-free label cannot mean that zero BPA will be detected in the food sample. Some BPA is found in food packaged in glass or cardboard containers (Kannan and Liao 2013) perhaps introduced during packaging or contaminating the ingredients themselves. However, a BPA-free label should mean that minimal amounts of BPA will be found in the food.
Maryland set a limit of no more than 0.5 parts per billion of BPA in baby formula, which would be ideal. BPA concentrations in food in glass or cardboard rarely exceed 1 part per billion, so this is an achievable limit.