Consumer Reports Tests Find BPA in Canned Soups, Juice, and More

By Kristie Turck •  Published 11/05/09 •  4 min read

Here we go … BPA in the news again.  I have been wanting to post something about this since I saw it on the evening news the other night.  Consumer Reports just published new findings (but none of it is really news to us) about levels of BPA in canned food.  We knew it was there but how much?  As we know, BPA is not only found in hard plastic but as a component of the epoxy lining in canned food, soda cans, juice cans, baby formula and glass jar lids to name a few.   From the new study:

Canned Del Monte Fresh Cut Green Beans Blue Lake had the highest amount of BPA for a single sample in Consumer Reports tests, with levels ranging from 35.9 parts per billion (ppb) to 191 ppb. Progresso Vegetable Soup BPA levels ranged from 67 to 134 ppb. Campbell’s Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup had BPA levels ranging from 54.5 to 102 ppb.

Average amounts in tested products varied widely. In most items tested, such as canned corn, chili, tomato sauce, and corned beef, BPA levels ranged from trace amounts to about 32 ppb.

Given the significance of BPA exposure for infants and young children, Consumer Reports tested samples of Similac Advance Infant Formula and Nestle Juicy Juice All Natural 100% Apple Juice. The findings revealed:

Similac liquid concentrate in a can averaged 9 ppb of BPA, but there was no measurable level in the powdered version.

Nestle Juicy Juice in a can averaged 9.7 ppb of BPA, but there were no measurable levels in the samples of the same product packaged in juice boxes.

I was surprised to hear that Similac’s powdered formula came back with no measurable levels of BPA, though it’s unclear to me at this point what type of packaging the powdered version was in.  Similac has a new plastic container made of polypropylene but there is a questionable foil seal on the inside that Similac would not comment on whether it had BPA or not (I’m guessing yes or else they would probably have said so).

What’s most alarming is that products boasting BPA Free on the label tested with measurable amounts of BPA.  Alarming, but not so surprising. Even items in alternative packaging came back with BPA levels.  Even Eden’s baked beans, which we though were BPA Free came back with a very low level of BPA.

We tested two products that their manufacturers claimed were packaged in BPA-free cans and found the chemical in both of the foods. Although tests of the inside of the cans found that the liners were not epoxy-based, Vital Choice’s tuna in “BPA-free” cans was found to contain an average of 20 ppb of BPA and Eden Baked Beans averaged 1 ppb.

It’s unclear at this point what levels are safe and what aren’t (though my preference would be for NO safe levels):

“The findings are noteworthy because they indicate the extent of potential exposure,” said Dr. Urvashi Rangan, Director of Technical Policy, at Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports. “Children eating multiple servings per day of canned foods with BPA levels comparable to the ones we found in some tested products could get a dose of BPA near levels that have caused adverse effects in several animal studies. The lack of any safety margin between the levels that cause harm in animals and those that people could potentially ingest from canned foods has been inadequately addressed by the FDA to date.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is soon expected to announce the findings of its most recent reassessment of the safety of BPA.

Read all about it: Consumer Reports Study (use the links on the left side to read the details of the study and the results.