Many people tossed out their plastic water and baby bottles after concerns rose over bisphenol A, a chemical used in the production of hard plastics, and its potential to cause reproductive abnormalities, breast and prostate cancers, diabetes and heart disease.
Both the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintain that low levels of BPA exposure are safe for humans.
The chemical has also been found in certain name-brand canned foods, according to a study.
In its December issue, Consumer Reports tested soups, juice, tuna and green beans, and found that 19 name-brand foods contain some amount of BPA, which is used in the plastic lining in many canned foods. And organic foods were not exempt — they didn't always have lower levels of BPA than non-organic foods. Some labels also declared their cans BPA-free, but this claim wasn't always true either.
Consumer Reports found that the highest levels of bisphenol-A were found in Del Monte Fresh Cut Green Beans Blue Lake, Progresso Vegetable Soup and Campbell's Condensed Chicken Soup.
The study also found much-maligned BPA in Similac Advance Infant Formula and Nestle Juicy Juice in a can.
"The BPA levels in our samples of Nestle Juicy Juice, at about 9 parts per billion, were not among the highest in the foods we tested. However, considering how many servings of juice young children may consume daily, a child still could exceed a level that Consumers Union thinks would provide an adequate margin of safety," said Dr. Urvashi Rangan, director of Technical Policy, at Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports.
"The lack of any safety margin between the levels that cause harm in animals and those that people could potentially ingest from canned foods has been inadequately addressed by the FDA to date," he added.
Current FDA guidelines put the upper limit of safe exposure to BPA at 50 micrograms of BPA for each kilogram of body weight. But the guidelines were based on studies done in the 1980s. The FDA is expected to issue new guidelines on what levels of BPA are safe for human consumption in the near future.
The American Chemistry Council, which speaks on behalf of the plastics industry, also maintains that low levels of BPA are perfectly safe
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, typical human exposure to BPA, including through canned products, is approximately 1,000 times below government safety limits," said Dr. Steven G. Hentges.