Toxic BPA Found in Nearly 40% of Food Cans Tested From America's Largest Grocery Stores and Dollar Store Chains

Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families has co-released a new report that found toxic BPA in nearly 40% of food cans tested from the nation’s largest grocery stores and dollar store chains.

The report, "Kicking the Can? Major retailers still selling canned food with BPA," authored by our coalition partners the Center for Environmental Health (CEH), shows that millions of Americans who eat canned foods are still being exposed to the toxic chemical bisphenol A (BPA).

The report details testing on more than 250 canned foods, finding that 38% of cans tested contain BPA, a chemical that is known to cause birth defects and has been linked to breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and other serious health problems.  

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Over 250 cans purchased at grocery stores in 10 states

For the new report, cans were purchased between January and April of this year from 10 states: California, Idaho, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Virginia. Most the cans were purchased from four national retailers: Kroger, Albertsons/Safeway, Dollar Tree and 99 Cents Only.  

One out of three cans tested positive for BPA

“These companies have known for years that BPA is a serious health threat, yet too many of their food cans still contain this dangerous chemical,” said Caroline Cox, research director at CEH. “Americans deserve safe food for their children and families. It is past time for grocery retailers and dollar stores to end this health threat and develop safer alternatives for canned foods.”

The CEH report compares its 2017 findings with testing on canned foods that were purchased in 2015 and reported on in last year’s Buyer Beware report released by the Mind the Store Campaign, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, Ecology Center, the Campaign for Healthier Solutions, and Clean Production Action. Findings from today’s new report show:

  • Nearly 40% of the cans tested used BPA-containing linings. While this is down from our 2015 report, which showed 67% of cans with BPA, the threat of exposure to BPA from canned food remains high.

  • The contents from four cans that tested positive for BPA were tested by an independent lab for BPA contamination; all four tested positive for BPA in the food.

  • The two largest grocery chains in the country, Kroger and Albertsons, continue to sell food cans lined with toxic BPA.  36% of Albertsons and 33% of Kroger’s “private label” food cans tested positive for this harmful chemical. While that demonstrates both companies have made notable progress, which we applaud, more work is clearly needed.

  • Cans purchased from certain dollar stores were more likely to contain BPA, a particular concern for low-income communities of color in “food deserts” where canned food from the local dollar store is often the most convenient and affordable option. Studies show that people in these communities have, on average, higher levels of BPA in their bodies than the rest of the population.

  • While some companies are moving away from BPA in their canned foods, there is inadequate safety information on the materials they are using to replace BPA. 19% of the cans tested use linings containing PVC, a toxic substitute. Other substitute linings found by CEH include materials that have not been adequately evaluated for safety.

Watch a video about the new report.

Over 100,000 people call on Kroger and Albertsons to can toxic BPA

This new report comes after a year of advocacy from our Mind the Store campaign in which more than 150,000 people signed petitions to Kroger, and 130,000 signed petitions to Albertsons, following a national day of action and letters we sent to Kroger and Albertsons last year, calling on both retailers to act.  

Our partners at Ohio Citizen Action delivered over 100,000 of these petitions to Kroger at its shareholder meeting last June, where they held a protest outside and spoke during the shareholder meeting. This followed a previous action they held outside Kroger headquarters last May.

In November our partners at Conservation Voters for Idaho held an informational picket outside of Albertsons’ headquarters in Boise, delivering petitions to the company while also promoting the release of our “Who’s Minding the Store?” retailer report card. The report card found both Kroger and Albertsons lagging behind other retailers in developing robust safer chemical policies.

Kroger and Albertsons must act to protect customers

While this new report shows that some notable progress has been made since last year, it underscores the need for retailers to set timelines to completely phase out BPA, ensure substitutes are safe, and develop systemic safer chemical policies.

We hope Kroger and Albertsons will “mind the store” and do the right thing to safeguard our health and food.


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