A few years ago, everyone was freaking out about bisphenol A in plastic water bottles. I ditched my yellowed, decade-old Nalgene bottle for a fancy BPA-free one and pretty much thought I was set for life.
Unfortunately it turns out that the BPA risk is still out there thanks to canned foods. A recent study found that BPA-lined cans sometimes leach the toxin into food, which poses a danger to all but especially to pregnant women, young children and developing fetuses. BPA acts like a hormone in your body, meaning it can upset usual hormonal responses and reprogram cells, contributing to things like ADHD, a weakened immune system, reproductive problems and even breast cancer.
So what’s a well-stocked-pantry-loving gal to do? Be choosy. There are some foods that have a much higher incidence of BPA-leaching than others, either due to their ingredients (fatty, salty, acidic) or at what temperature they’re processed and for how long.
Here are the top 10 worst foods to eat from BPA-lined cans, according to the Breast Cancer Fund:
1. Coconut milk
5. Meals (like pasta dishes)
9. Meal-replacement drinks
Fortunately there are some brands out there that can enable you to continue your canned ravioli addiction in peace. In 2015, Environmental Working Group surveyed 252 major American canned food producers. It rated the brands as Best, Better, Uncertain or Worst Players, depending on how BPA-free their cans were.
The Best Players companies are exclusively BPA-free and include Amy’s Kitchen, Hain Celestial, Tyson, Annie’s and Farmer’s Market brands.
Some others, like Campbell Soup and Walmart, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s store brands, use BPA in some of their cans but leave it out for others. Look for can labels that say “BPA free” if you want to be extra cautious. Or buy foods bottled in glass instead of cans. Definitely avoid heating foods inside cans (sorry, DIY dulce de leche fans). And if you’re pregnant or feeding little ones, this warning goes double for you.
At the end of the day, the message is the same as the one we keep hearing: Your safest bet is to stick to fresh, whole foods that you cook from scratch. Now, if someone can teach me how to make SpaghettiOs from scratch, I may stand a fighting chance.