Editor’s note: After highlighting the health, cost, and environmental benefits of eating canned fish, Heated received a wide array of feedback. The piece validated canned fish lovers around the globe, opened the minds of former naysayers (we’ve received an unusual number of photos of people trying sardines for the first time), and surfaced several questions and concerns. The most common questions related to concerns about bisphenol A, or BPA, in canned foods, so the following is an exploration of those concerns.
BPA is not good for you. In the early 1990s, BPA was discovered to have a very similar biological structure to the hormone estrogen, resulting in endocrine-disrupting effects. In animal and epidemiological studies, researchers have linked BPA to breast and prostate cancer, reduced fertility, diabetes, genital defects, altered behavior, and weight gain.
BPA is a chemical that is often used to make polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins and has been used in food and beverage containers since the 1960s. Epoxy resins serve as the extremely thin plastic lining found inside an aluminum can. The purpose of this lining is to prevent food from losing flavor or spoiling and to prevent the tin from getting worn out or rusted. No one wants rusted anchovies.
When information first spread about the potential health risks associated with BPA leaching into food, consumer outrage forced manufacturers to switch to alternative materials. Manufacturers began using a variety of plastic solutions, such as vinyl and polyester linings. As a result, approximately 90 percent of canned food items no longer use BPA linings, making it easier for both new and existing companies to source BPA-free cans.
“I think people developed a fear of BPA when the news about it in water bottles broke, and are probably assuming that interacting with canned sardines represents the same magnitude of exposure. It absolutely does not.”
“For us, it wasn’t a challenge to find BPA-free cans,” said Adam Bent, CEO and co-founder of Scout Canning. “Because concern of BPA became…