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Tips for Avoiding BPA in Canned Food

Tips for Kicking the Can and Avoiding BPA

It may seem simple, but trying to avoid the BPA in canned foods can be a challenge.

That's why we put together some quick tips for choosing foods without this harmful chemical.

Beans

  • Some companies have already started using BPA-free alternatives in their canned beans, although Eden Foods is the only company that includes "BPA-free" on the label. Unfortunately, most companies aren't disclosing what they're using instead of BPA and we don't know which replacements are safe.
  • Some companies are selling frozen cooked beans, so check the freezer section.
  • If you're looking for a cheaper alternative, try soaking dry beans overnight and cooking them yourself. You'll get affordable, BPA-free beans for the next day's recipe. You can even make a large batch and freeze them for future heat-and-eat convenience. Just don't reheat them in plastic containers, which can leach BPA or other plastic chemicals.

Fruits

  • The best BPA-free alternative to canned fruit is simply replacing it with dried or fresh fruit. An added bonus is that many canned fruits contain added sugar so cutting the BPA might also cut the calories.

Ravioli, Pasta with Meatballs and Other Canned Meals

  • These all-in-one meals have some of the highest levels of BPA of any canned foods, possibly because their high fat and sodium content encourages leaching of the chemical. That means ridding your pantry of these foods offers great BPA-free bang for your buck. If you crave convenience or can't cook, try replacing canned with frozen meals. Just make sure to pop the meal out of the plastic (the tray too, not just the film cover) before throwing it into the microwave!

Restaurant Meals

  • Going out to eat can be a challenge because you don't know if the meal you ordered contains canned food or not. Your server, however, should have this information, so don’t be afraid to ask! Generally speaking, many restaurants use canned foods so it might be tough to completely avoid BPA in your restaurant meal.

Soups

  • Many soups are available in Tetra Pak containers, which look like oversized juice boxes (you might recognize them from the soy milk section of the store). Tetra Paks are BPA-free, made from cardboard lined with aluminum foil and with a layer of PET (plastic code #1). However, some cities don't recycle Tetra Paks—check with your city’s waste program and urge your city to recycle them if it doesn't already.
  • In need of chicken, beef or vegetable broth? Many broths also come in Tetra Pak containers, or you can use bouillon cubes and water to create the same broth flavor in recipes. If you enjoy cooking, you can also make your own broth and freeze extra in glass jars for later use.

Vegetables

  • Cracking open a can of veggies is definitely convenient, but vegetables have some of the highest levels of BPA among canned foods, according to product tests. For heat-and-serve convenience, buy frozen vegetables and steam in the microwave in a glass or ceramic bowl covered with a plate (ditch the steam-in plastic bag).
  • Canned tomatoes are a pantry staple, but you can get them without the can: some grocers now stock tomatoes in Tetra Paks or glass. If your favorite store doesn't carry them, ask.
  • Of course, fresh vegetables are always the best option. Check out what's local and seasonal in your area—they're likely the least expensive, freshest and tastiest produce selections around.