The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

January 13, 2009

Bisphenol-A (aka BPA) What is it? Where is it? Why do we care?

Last week, I posted a little video tour of my kitchen in which I made some remarks about BPA in canned foods. I’ve been receiving all kinds of comments and questions about this issue, so I thought I’d address it directly.

Bisphenol-A, commonly known as BPA, is a component of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. It’s been the subject of much recent concern as studies have shown it to be an endocrine disruptor that builds up in our bodies over time. Low doses may cause chronic toxicity in humans, posing the highest risk to pregant women, infants, and young children.

Bisphenol-A only poses a risk if it leaches out of the resin and into our bodies. While much focus has been on polycarbonate water and baby bottles, there is a greater danger from the epoxy linings of canned foods because of the high heats at which they are processed.

BPA in Cans

NEARLY ALL CANNED FOODS CONTAIN BPA. This fact came as a surprise to some Fake Plastic Fish readers. To date, I am only aware of three brands of canned foods that have specifically found alternatives to BPA linings (thanks to FPF reader Christy B.) These brands are:

A December 26, 2008 article from Natural News confirms that as of this writing, these are the only BPA-free brands of canned foods.

There has been some misunderstanding about whether or not Trader Joe’s uses BPA in its cans because of some faulty information provided by its customer service reps. Trader Joe’s cans do, in fact, contain BPA.

And what about Whole Foods? They have eliminated BPA-containing bottles from their stores, but Whole Foods’ Statement on BPA does not mention cans. The writer of the Family Health & Safety blog published a response from Whole Foods about a year ago stating that there is BPA in their cans. I personally left a phone message on January 9 with Whole Foods corporate office about BPA lining in 365 Brand cans. (512) 477-5566 x20020. I have not heard back yet. I believe we can safely assume that until Whole Foods publishes otherwise, their 365 Organics canned foods do contain BPA.

What about glass jars?

While buying food in glass jars may be safer than metal cans or plastic containers, there is still a small BPA risk posed by the metal lids. Yes, it’s true. Most metal jar lids contain a BPA lining. Still, the surface to product ratio is minimal compared to cans. My own life is not so completely plastic-free that I won’t buy pasta sauce in glass jars with metal lids. But I just thought I’d mention this because if I don’t, one of you will!

BPA in plastic bottles & containers

BPA is a monomer in polycarbonate plastics, including hard plastic water bottles, baby bottles, the large bottles on the top of water coolers, and the container found on your Cuisinart and other plastic food processor, blender, and juicer containers. (In April 2008, Vita-Mix announced a new BPA-free model, but previous models do contain BPA.) This is why I have mostly stopped using my food processor and opt instead to use my blender with glass pitcher. (I do wonder what kind of plastic is in the bottom.) Other possible items made from polycarbonate are hard plastic drinking cups, plates, and bowls.

Brita pitchers, by the way, are not made from polycarbonate and do not contain BPA.

CDs and DVDs are also made from polycarbonate, as are eye glasses and other hard plastic items. However, since we don’t eat many of these, I think we’re safe. They do carry the pollution hazards of all plastics, of course.

Polycarbonate plastic carries the #7 recycling symbol. But not all #7s are polycarbonate, unfortunately. #7 is a catch-all for plastics that don’t fit into the first 6 categories, including bio-based plastics. The suggestion from consumer groups is if you are trying to avoid BPA, it’s best to avoid all hard #7 plastics unless they specifically state they are BPA-free. Still, you won’t know what else could be leaching from them, will you? My personal suggestion is to opt for glass whenever possible.

If you do choose to use polycarbonate, you can minimize your risk in several ways: don’t fill them with hot foods, don’t wash them in the dishwasher, and don’t scratch them or use harsh detergents or abrasives on them. Rough handling breaks down the plastic and can cause the BPA to leach more than it otherwise might have.

BPA in your teeth?

Scary but true. One of my Green Sangha friends shared with me that her daughter was subjected to a dental sealant treatment at school without my friend’s permission. Wow. Times have changed. Most dental sealants do contain BPA, as do some composite fillings. Scientists are divided about whether they leach and whether the amount of leaching is harmful. But BPA-free alternatives do exist, and you can ask for them.

I’ve had a few teeth sealed, and they probably do contain BPA. However, I was happy to learn last year that the hard plastic Invisalign retainers I put in my mouth every night do not contain either BPA or phthalate plasticizers, according to the company’s FAQ.

Further Information on BPA

Here are a few blogs that focus a lot of attention on the issue of BPA:

Non-Toxic Kids
The Smart Mama

Hope this helps.

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Linda Aguilar

Muir Glen Organic canned tomatoes say right on the can “The lining of this can was produced without BPA.”


This just came out: the chemical in BPA-free bottles, cans, and lids could be just as bad. See:


La Croix Sparkling Water confirmed on their Facebook page that their cans are BPA-free.:

Bpa Free

The various research done on BPA does prove one thing: that continuous exposure to it can be harmful to health. So it is better to make sure that all plastic products one uses are BPA free.

Nowadays, one can easily find products like BPA free water and milk bottles, baby bottles, lunch boxes, containers, products for ones microwave, freezer or refrigerator, and even BPA free toys. So protect your health and that of your near and dear ones by using only BPA free products.

Eric Brazelton

Can I recycle a broken Cuisinart bowl? What # plastic is it?




I wonder if one disgards the top few inches of food from a jar (eg. top few inches of tomato sauce) if this will reduce the BPA levels consumed? ie. is the greatest concentration of leached BPA (from the plastic lined metal jar lid) located in the food closest to the lid because it will make direct contact with the lid (as opposed to the food closer to the bottom of the jar? Or can the contents of the jar move sufficiently enough during shipping and handling that the BPA contamination is usually fairly uniform in its distribution? Or will… Read more »


Or here is what the article says….really scientific but you can get the idea Bisphenol-A diglycidyl ether (BADGE) is used as an additive or starting agent in coatings for cans. The presence of hydrochloric acid in the organosol (PVC-based) lacquers results in formation of chlorohydroxy compounds of BADGE. These compounds, as well as BADGE itself, are potential migrants into the preserved food and are of toxicological concern. In the present investigation the presence of BADGE and the chlorohydroxy compounds (BADGE.HCl and BADGE.2HCl) in various kinds of canned foods from 30 brands have been determined by HPLC with fluorescence detection. BADGE… Read more »


If the link doesn’t work you can go to and search for this article

Migration of bisphenol-A diglycidyl ether (BADGE) and its reaction products in canned foods


I submitted the above link…apparently it is not working so I am going to resubmit BTW-Here is the reply when I asked bionaturae about the PVC The lids of our jars do not contain BPA but they do contain a small percentage of PVC in the round seal that you see on the inner surface of the lid. This is used to secure the closure of the lid and at this time, we have been unable to use a PVC-free compound, although we continue to search for an alternative. We have found that all packaging materials have a negative aspect,… Read more »


There is a website that says there is hydrochloric acid in PVC based organosol laquer. This is supposedly the chemical they use in the lids of the Bionaturae’s lid instead of BPA. Another website said there was chlorine in it…I guess pesticides may be better like the non organic Trader Joes in the box …scary!

Nicky Jones

I have a question. I love to cook things with tomato paste and different tomato sauces and I have gotten them in cans. I was wondering if because the tomato paste or sauce is in something that I cook does the BPA cook out?


I have been doing some webcrawling about BPA’s and found your site. Consumer Reports did a study on canned foods and found that even cans marked “BPA Free” had BPA’s. Also, cans that did not have the liners STILL tested positive for BPA’s. Even if companies are in compliance with the FDA, the FDA was bought long ago. The thing that really bothered me about what I found is that canned soups and even the little plastic containers of pasta with the metal lids that you heat in the microwave have high levels of BPA’s. In my personal digging I… Read more »

Susan Nash

how do I find out if a soda can has BPA in it? We enjoy the cans of sparking flavored water, such as Klarbrum, an La Croix. I have felt pretty virtuous drinking these since they have no suger or artificial sweeteners. I would like to know how to research this…

Geoffrey Bard

Your statement about Trader Joe’s isn’t quite true. I contacted Trader Joe’s about BPA in their cans this week, and got the following reply: from Web Customer Relations date Wed, Feb 10, 2010 at 9:55 AM subject RE: Trader Joe’s Product Information Form mailed-by Dear Mr. Bard, Thank you for contacting us. Canned items in our stores WITH BPA lining in the cans would include: tomatoes, tomato sauce & paste, soups, chili, and stew. Canned items in our stores that DO NOT have BPA lining in the cans include: seafood (tuna, salmon, herring, sardines, etc.), chicken, turkey & beef… Read more »


Do canning jar lids (for glass Mason jars) contain BPA also? I imagine it must be the same substance as the pasta jars? I don’t normally buy pasta sauce but I do can my own food and thought I was avoiding BPA by doing so. :(


Elle, the plastic bags ought to be safer than the can linings, just because they haven’t been heated (as the cans are, in the sealing process) and there isn’t any liquid for the chemicals to move through to get into the beans.

Which doesn’t solve the problem of general contamination from plastics in the environment, but does make your personal consupmtion of BPA a little.


After your previous BPA post I emailed Whole Foods (bottom line: cans have BPA in them) because I was concerned that I’d been given wrong information and here is the response I received: “Hello Maya, With few exceptions, the can linings of aluminum cans in our stores do contain bisphenol-a (BPA) in the lining material. This is true of most aluminum cans in the US and does include our Private Label products. We are actively assessing the safety of the packaging materials used in our stores, as we are committed to helping our customers protect themselves and their families and… Read more »

Chiot's Run

This is why I changed all of my fridge/freezer container to glass this past year (they do have plastic lids, but I make sure to not fill enough for food to touch them). This is also why I preserve some food myself (although I’m sure the Ball lids contains BPA liners). I’ll be upgrading all of my canning jars to Weck with glass lids and rubber seals in the coming years. This is a great incentive to grow your own and cook from scratch. I’m assuming that if beans/dried goods come in plastic bags that the leaching isn’t as much… Read more »


Since I do not have a near-by source for bulk foods right now, I am wondering what type of plastic the bag that dried beans come in? Is that plastic bag storing the dried beans “better” than the BPA lining the can?


What a let down! How can I enjoy my beenie weenies if I know there is BPA in them? Poop.

ON happier news I recieved the Skoy Clothes today! Lvely little items- Can’t wait until it is time to microwave them!

Christy B.

Very disturbing. I spent a small fortune removing the mercury fillings from my mouth.

Now I wonder if I exchanged mercury for BPA? I wonder how fair of a trade that is?!

I will be calling my dentist’s office tomorrow.


Wow, that is very scary. Just like John, I thought only plastic bottles contained BPA. Its sad that almost all things we humans use/buy contain harmful chemicals. It just doesn’t make sense!

Anarres Natural Health

In general, I believe that all plastics that aren’t pure resin such as bakelite (which is the screw on bottom part of most blenders) leach something, mostly “plasticizerts” that are endocrine (hormone) disruptors.

Just to make things bleaker, up here in Canadada, Eden foods says that one of their plants uses BPA in the can liners and the other doesn’t – no way of knowing which you are getting!

Grrr. Better soak and cook those beans myself. Ahh for lost innicense!

Green Bean

The teeth thing is tough. Composite fillings contain BPA and all kids of scary stuff. Amalgam fillings, on the other hand, contain mercury. Not sure which is the best bet.

Your post, btw, is a great incentive to make your own or buy in bulk. I used to buy canned beans all the time. Now I just soak some bought in bulk overnight and toss them in the slow cooker. Saves money, saves packaging and apparently also saves BPA.

John Costigane

That is a shocker, Beth. I assumed only plastic bottles had this problem. Ideally, it should be banned worldwide.

Carol in Seattle

Ok, assume I’m an idiot, but is the BPA in the can itself (part of the metal) or is it a lining?