A Moment of Science

Do Canned Goods Have Health Risks?

'Tis the season for giving, which often includes plenty of holiday food drives. But beware. Studies show that canned foods may contain harmful chemicals.

food_drive

Photo: McCain Library

Does the good outweigh the bad when donating canned goods?

Bisphenol A, oftened shortened to BPA, is a chemical that has been linked to heart disease, cancer, and developmental problems.

Where do we encounter this chemical? How does it get into our bodies?

Hidden Chemicals

Well a new study suggests that one major source may be packaged foods, especially canned goods.

Packaging companies use BPA to create strong, lightweight plastics. It is also a major ingredient in epoxy resins, which are used to extend the shelf life of our canned goods.

The study looked at a wide variety of products. The levels of BPA varied from product to product, and overall the levels are very low. A few products didn’t have any at all.

Can the Goods?

The amounts  found in this study were well below the recommended limit for BPA. But does that mean that it’s completely safe?

Many scientists agree that the recommended levels of BPA, and other harmful chemicals, require some reevaluation. Taking a closer look at what really gets into our food will help make a healthier and safer diet for everyone.

However, don’t be afraid of donating to that food drive this holiday season. While fresh food is healthier, canned goods are not a major cause for worry. For example, a 115-lb adult would have to eat 140 cans of greens beans to reach the recommended limit for BPA.

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Molly Plunkett

is a journalism student at Indiana University and an online producer for A Moment of Science. She is originally from Wheaton, IL.

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