Can the Cans (Avoiding BPA)

Found in the urine of 93% of Americans, Bisphenol-A is a compound that is used in the manufacturing of polycarbonate, epoxy resins and other plastics. It mimics estrogen and is a hormone disruptor. It is linked to prostate problems, obesity, cancer, diabetes, reproductive issues, and behavior problems in young girls. It seems to be especially dangerous to infants, young children and pregnant women. Common sources of BPA include #3 and #7 plastics, the lining of cans, and receipts printed on thermal paper. Over the last few years many governments around the world have expressed concern about the safety of BPA, especially in children’s products, and some have banned it or limited it’s use. Some states, including California, have banned it’s use in baby bottles, sippy cups and other children’s products. As a result, industries are slowly phasing it out. It is still very common in the lining of food cans, where it leaches into the food. Canned infant formula is a major source of BPA for babies. Acid foods such as canned tomatoes have been found to have high levels of BPA in them.

The FDA is set to decide by March 31st if BPA should be banned from all U.S. food and beverage packaging.  Let’s hope the answer is a resounding YES!  In the meantime, how can you reduce your exposure?

The best way to reduce your exposure to BPA (and other chemicals, by the way) is to eat unprocessed, fresh food with no cans or plastic packaging.  A study conducted by the Silent Spring Institute and the Breast Cancer Fund found that families eating in this manner for three days had their BPA  levels fell by 60%.  Impressive!  (Does this tip sound familiar? Are there other reasons to eat unprocessed, fresh food? Why do all us “health nuts” keep bringing this up?)

–  Avoid food from cans, unless you know they are BPA free.  Be especially vigilant about tomatoes and other high acid foods.  Check out this list of BPA free cans over at The Soft Landing.  If you are in doubt, contact the manufacturer directly.  Campbell’s soup just gave word that they have began phasing out BPA, but it is not clear when they will be done and which products will be BPA free first.

–  Use glass, stainless steel or plastic confirmed to be BPA free to store food in.

–  Do not heat up food in the microwave in plastic!!! I don’t care how “microwave safe” it claims to be!

–  Avoid PVC plastic wrap.  Most brands sold to consumers are safe, but for some reason the commercial plastic wraps are typically PVC, this means all that shrink wrapped meat and cheese you buy at the deli and butcher is likely wrapped in PVC.

– If you don’t need a receipt, don’t take one.  Carbonless credit card receipts, the receipt that prints out of the credit card reader that you have to sign, is a major source of BPA.  If you need the receipt, wash your hands after touching it and don’t let kids get their grubbies on them.

Want a BPA free replacement for canned cream of mushroom soup?  As a bonus, it will be lower in sodium, preservative free, and taste better.  Make it yourself!  One of my sisters recommended this recipe to me.  She got the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated.  She is a great cook, so we can trust her.  For the chicken broth, I recommend either making your own, buying a tetra pak of broth, or use the concentrate they sell at Trader Joe’s.  Bullion cubes, powders and most concentrates are filled with ingredients you don’t need.  If you want to make this vegan, I would suggest using a combination of  half coconut oil and half olive oil for the butter and almond or hemp milk for the cream.  If you make the milk yourself increase the nut/seed to water ratio to make it creamier.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound white button mushrooms, stems trimmed, wiped clean, and broken into 1/2-inch pieces

3 medium cloves garlic, minced

Ground black pepper

3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Add butter to medium sauce pan and melt over medium-high heat until foaming subsides. Add mushrooms, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; cook until mushrooms release moisture and liquid evaporates, about 6 minutes. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in broth and bring to simmer, stirring constantly. Add cream, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until sauce is thickened and reduced to 3 1/2 cups, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
*To make a low fat version reduce butter by half, omit flour and replace cream with lowfat milk. After you have cooked the mushrooms add in the liquids and bring to a simmer. Then combine 1 TBS Cornstarch with 1 TBS cold water, add to pan and proceed with recipe.

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