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  • InFood and Drink Storage, Shopping Guides

    BPA-free Canned Food Options

    BPA-free Canned Food Collage

    We've talked extensively about BPA-based epoxy linings commonly used in aluminum cans, especially in regards to finding BPA-free tomatoes.  It was a difficult task because of their acidic nature, but we finally found Pomi.  Not even Eden Organics, the leader of the pack, has found a way to go BPA-free in the canned tomato category just yet.

    During our tomato treasure hunt, we gathered a decent sized list of all BPA-free canned foods currently available.  Hopefully this list will continue to grow with the possibility of new BPA-free lining alternatives like this one made from sugar.

    BPA-free Canned Food Options

    • Bionaturae organic canned tomatoes are now BPA-free and labeled as such (no guessing which is which!).  They also offer Tomato Paste and Strained Tomatoes in glass jars only with lids that are lined with a BPA and PVC-free epoxy.  All of their products are grown on their farm, packed fresh, and never stored in plastic or repacked.
    • Jovial organic tomatoes are packed in glass with BPA-free lining in the aluminum lid (a gummy PVC ring is used around the edge of the jar to create a tight seal, but doesn't come in contact with the food).
    • Farmer's Market (all products are BPA-free)
    • Eden organic beans (all of them, including chili, rice & beans, etc.).  UPDATE 1/20/11:  Eden Foods Finds a Better Solution to BPA-lined Cans for Tomatoes and Sauces
    • Trader Joe’s canned corn, beans, meat products, canned fruits and vegetables (including tomatoes, and organic pumpkin (as of 2012) but NOT mandarins, hatch chilies, artichokes, organic baked beans).  All canned soups and stews are still in BPA lined cans
    • Vital Choice Seafood (salmon, albacore tuna, sardines and mackerel;  they test for all endocrine disruptors, not just BPA)
    • Muir Glen tomatoes (We confirmed with Muir Glen in December 2011 that all of last season's tomatoes have been transitioned to BPA-free cans)
    • Aseptic packaging (like Tetra Pak cartons/bricks) is also BPA-free.  These packages are made of 70% paperboard combined with aluminum foil and thin layers of LDPE (low density polyethylene) for the food contact surface.  Read about BPA-free Pomi tomatoes in aseptic packaging here.
    • Oregon’s Choice (6oz lightly salted albacore and the company is working toward going BPA-free with their crab and shrimp too)
    • Wild Planet (5oz skipjack tuna and its 5oz albacore tuna)
    • Native Forest/Native Factor (all canned foods, including the only canned coconut milk that uses a BPA-free can – which happens to the brand I've been using for years – yeah!)
    • Crown Prince (see full list here)
    • Hunt's Tomatoes (plain tomatoes only) – they just introduced their sauce in a 33.5oz tetra pak carton too (we've seen them in major stores as of 10/10/12)
    • Nature's One Organic powdered baby formula

    Fresh produce and dried beans are still your best bet.  Frozen produce is a good second choice because they're usually harvested when ripe, heated for a shorter time and immediately frozen.

    P.S.  We recently spoke to Two Guys in Vermont and they make tomato products that come in glass jars and although the lids do contain BPA though there is a lining that separates between. AND…you won't believe it, but Campbell's is going BPA-free too!  Read more about it here.

  • InToxic Chemicals

    BPA in Receipts: Have We Gone Over the Edge in Worrying?

    Many Americans have come to the point where they agree that bisphenol-a (BPA) is probably something worth avoiding in food containers.  It's no longer a leap of faith when current research keeps churning out evidence of gender-bending effects, such as increased aggression in toddler girls after exposure to BPA during pregnancy.

    But now we're hearing about BPA lurking in the most surprising places:

    And now we're learning that carbonless credit card receipts may be the largest single source of BPA yet.  Which leads us to ask the question: are we verging on hysteria in worrying this much about BPA?

    In my opinion, no.  When a single chemical is produced in such massive quantities (6 billion pounds per year!), we are remiss if we don't worry about widespread human exposure from its use and subsequent occurrence in our environment. We're no longer talking about avoiding a baby bottle here and there – we're talking about chronic exposure to an endocrine disrupting chemical on a very large scale from multiple sources:  air, food, household dust, physical contact and water.

    How do you feel about our current state of concern?  Have we lost our minds and given in to an irrational fear?

    UPDATE 7/28/10: Can BPA be absorbed through the skin?  It’s beginning to look like the answer is YES.  Read more HERE.

  • InHealthy Baby, Toxic Chemicals

    Feeding Baby Green Provides a Thought Provoking Solution to BPA-laden Prepared Foods

    Dr. Greene has been on the leading edge of the Green Baby Movement for many years.  Most parents are familiar with his best selling book Raising Baby Green, which quickly became the standard for parents striving to make eco-friendly choices.  Now Dr. Greene bursts onto the scene with Feeding Baby Green at a time when pre-packaged convenience foods are the norm, childhood obesity is sky-rocketing, and Type II diabetes is ravaging young children as never before.

    I can't even begin to discuss the sheer depth of information covered in Feeding Baby Green in one article, so I won't.  For now, I want to share  what jumped out at me as a mom immersed in an endless sea of bisphenol-a (BPA) in my family's food.

    Baby Food is a Myth

    At first glance, this seems like an overly simple statement, or maybe even an outlandish sales pitch.  But as I continued to read, the weight of Dr. Green's bold statement hit me.  Does he realize he's going completely contrary to a foundational belief in our society?  What are his intentions and how does aim to support such a claim?  The answers to those questions quickly became clear, along with a solution to our ever-growing problem of toxic chemicals in our children's food.

    And so, Dr. Greene explains:

    Baby food is a myth.  A useful myth, perhaps, but it's worth pulling back the curtain to reveal that baby food was in invention of twentieth century food corporations.  The modern idea that babies should get entirely different fruits and different vegetables and different seasonings  than what the rest of the family is eating is about as modern as the Gerber Baby.

    When my father was born, “baby food” was rare.  By the time I was a baby, in the late 1950's, a particular style of jarred baby food had become a shared rite of passage.  In just one generation we had a change in how we feed babies that was so dramatic and so pervasive that it now seems like it has always been this way.

    The fact is, babies don't need to eat baby food, particularly factory-made baby food from a little jar.  Throughout the long, successful history of our species, babies have done remarkable well without it.  We have always had food for babies, of course, but what we think of as baby food is a recent shared myth, made tangible as commercial products.

    I know – you're wondering if it's really a smart idea not to follow the Stage 1, 2 and 3 exactly as you've been told.  You're thinking that it will take too long to prepare fresh food for your baby.  And then what if you're not sure you can provide your baby with a balanced diet?

    Drop the worry, let the fear go and dump your pre-conceived ideas about how babies should be fed.  Dr. Greene has orchestrated an amazing – and doable – journey for you.  Feeding Baby Green is so much more than a “how to” book – it's a stolen look into Dr. Greene's own journey to freedom and joyful family meals where baby is included instead of separated.

    And those concerns of BPA and toxic preservatives harming your baby's health?  They become drastically diminished in a world where you prepare one dinner for the whole family, without the need for jarred and canned baby food.  In the process your child will learn how to enjoy healthy, unprocessed food for life.

    Dr. Greene is not just your run of the mill doctor.  He is passionate about connecting with you and answering your questions, so be sure to catch up with him on the Feed Baby Green website and even Twitter.

  • InToxic Chemicals

    The Story of SIGG: Proprietary vs. Transparency

    The Story of SIGG - Proprietary vs TransparencyOur experience with SIGG has made for an interesting story.  This month we were finally able to read the last chapter – and the ending was just as we thought it would be.

    Back in 2006 when The Soft Landing was just being hatched and I had begun to search for BPA-free alternatives, SIGG was one of three major metal water bottle brands.  They promoted their products to me, a prospective retailer, as BPA-free, making SIGG an obvious choice to add to our budding BPA, PVC & Phthalate-free store.  I did eventually add them in early 2007 and  sold them like hotcakes.

    As time went on, more information about BPA – its toxicity in low doses and its shocking number of unsuspected uses – was brought to light at neck-breaking speed.  Consumer advocates pushed harder for change and the market place began to respond in late 2007.  With my family's help, we worked hard to stay ahead of the tidal wave by confirming and reconfirming the BPA-free status of each product offered in our store.  So when we learned in early 2008 that nearly all aluminum food containers were lined with a BPA-based epoxy – we immediately realized that we needed to contact SIGG to question their BPA-free claim.  Would they be one of the very few companies like Eden Organics to use a truly BPA-free lining?

    The answer we got was not what we expected from a powerhouse like SIGG with such a green reputation.  We were being told that the lining was “leach-free” and that they could not disclose their proprietary formula.  When we insisted that they confirm whether the lining was BPA-free, they responded with the same tired rhetoric we were accustomed to hearing from companies like Fisher Price and Similac.  We made the decision that day to stick with our policy of not carrying products made by companies who refuse to be transparent.  We immediately stopped selling SIGG aluminum bottles based on our gut feeling that there was more to this story.  We also stopped recommending them based on failure to confirm their products BPA-free status.

    SIGG's CEO confirmed our suspicions in a letter released this month – their aluminum bottles did contain small amounts of BPA after all.  In the letter, they went to great pains to explain that they spent millions of dollars developing a new lining and that their bottles no longer contain BPA as of August 2008.  Do they realize that it's now August 2009?  Why in the world are they just spilling the beans? Haven't we grown beyond this “proprietary” nonsense yet?  Well, maybe not.  Have a look at SIGG's answer to these questions:

    “The primary reason that I am writing this letter today is because I believe that the BPA conversation has changed dramatically in the last 12 months. Last year, the primary concern was that of BPA leaching from bottles. Since that time the dialogue has evolved such that now some people are concerned about the mere presence of BPA and some states are considering legislation.”

    Are you kidding?  We're not interested in dealing with another used car salesman.  There are too many other top notch water bottle companies out there!  It's not about the “mere presence of BPA” or that their studies didn't show any leaching – it's about the principle of trust.  We as parents, consumers and advocates should demand transparency from companies who build their entire foundation on being healthy and green.

    What to do with older SIGG bottles?

    We've been asked if we trust that the bottles are truly BPA-free now, and our answer to that question is yes, they probably are.  It's our opinion that SIGG wouldn't lay their neck on the line unless they had a lining that could be opened to scrutiny and proven to be BPA-free.  We've also been asked what to do with bottles made before August 2008 – we suggest you use their own comparison images to decipher which type of bottle you have and contact them directly for a refund or replacement.

  • InToxic Chemicals

    Bisphenol-a Manufacturers Switch to Fear Inducing Strategy

    Beware the upcoming marketing campaign depicting a desperately concerned pregnant mommy warning you about the impending disappearance of canned foods.

    Save BPA – it's not that harmful!  What about the moms who don't have time to grow their own food and prepare it without the help of cans lined with BPA?!

    Who are the fear mongers now?  We were the ones “propagating unnecessary fear” just a few short years ago – that is until science bolstered our basis of concern.  Now the chemical industry is backed into a corner by the very people who supply the largest portion of their bank accounts – young mothers ages 21-35.

    So how did all of this hoopla come into full public view?  The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Washington Post obtained the internal notes of a meeting held by manufacturers of cans for beverages and foods.  The Washington Post was able to confirm the accuracy of the notes via Kathleen M. Roberts, a lobbyist with Bergeson and Campbell for the North American Metal Packaging Alliance (NAMPA).

    Even more amazing, Ms. Roberts said the NAMPA members are concerned about bills pending in state legislatures as well as on Capitol Hill that would restrict or eliminate the use of BPA in metal cans.  She also confirmed that the chemical industry is still holding onto that same tired argument,

    BPA is a safe compound that has been tarred by activist groups and that consumers do not fully appreciate its importance.

    Safer States said in their coverage of the situation that the chemistry industry routinely implies that no such chemical exists. But, the Post points out, that’s not true.

    A commercial alternative to BPA does exist; Japan has significantly reduced its use of BPA in many canned goods. Roberts acknowledged that alternatives are available but not for all uses currently in the marketplace.

    Wow.  Can we please stop dancing around the issue and get down to business?  How about opting to spend your pro-BPA advertising dollars on a new market test?  Why not offer a BPA-free can option and gauge the public's reaction?  I would personally pay a pretty penny more for a safe alternative.  And in talking to 100's of those 21-35 year old mothers you're so interested in, I'm confident in predicting that they would do exactly the same.  And just think, they would be gaining something even more important than our money in the process too – our trust.

    Have a look at what other blogging moms have to say about this nonsense:

    photo credit: Jangra Works Shot at Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa. via photopin (license)

  • InCurrent Research, Healthy Baby, Toxic Chemicals

    New Study Shows 69% Increase in BPA Levels with Polycarbonate Bottle Use

    New Study Shows 69% Increase in BPA Levels with Polycarbonate Bottle UseThe scientific journal, Environmental Health Perspectives, just published the shocking results of a new study done by Harvard University and Centers for Disease Control Prevention.   The levels of bisphenol-a in the urine of 77 Harvard increased by two-thirds after they drank cold liquids from BPA water bottles for only a week.

    Whether or not the intake of food and drinks from polycarbonate containers increases BPA concentrations in humans had not yet been studied.  This study was designed to  examine the association between the use of polycarbonate beverage containers and urinary BPA concentrations in humans.  The study's conclusion was straightforward and alarming.

    One week of polycarbonate bottle use increased urinary BPA concentrations by two thirds. Regular consumption of cold beverages from polycarbonate bottles is associated with a substantial increase in urinary BPA concentrations irrespective of exposure to BPA from other sources.

    It's becoming more clear that BPA is harmful at lower levels than previously suspected and that sources of exposure are numerous and often hidden.  Recent studies have also shown that BPA remains in the blood longer and is not metabolized as quickly as once thought.

    It's extremely important that we help the most susceptible individuals, pregnant women and children, to avoid known sources of BPA exposure.  Renee Sharp, Director of Environmental Working Group's California office responded with great clarity on this point:

    These astonishing results should be a clarion call to lawmakers and public health officials that babies are being exposed to BPA, and at levels that could likely have an impact on their development.  The adults in this study were willing participants who understood the risk of exposure, but babies are unwitting victims of the silent but serious threat this hormone- disrupting chemical poses to their health.

    Demand the ban of Bisphenol-a in food containers by supporting the Kids Safe Chemical Act!  Let your state reps know how you feel about this harmful endocrine-disrupting chemical, and keep sharing with your family, friends and neighbors.

    Photo source: Flickr by dharder9475

  • InNon-toxic Home, Real Food, Toxic Plastic

    What Does a Used Car Salesman Have in Common with Similac?

    What Does a Used Car Salesman Have in Common with Similac?

    Thank you SafeMama for broaching the subject of whether or not Similac SimplePac containers are BPA free.  We've been talking with many parents who have the same burning question.  We haven't come away with a black and white answer either.

    I swear we're going to have to hire a P.I. to sneak around and get a glimpse of their materials list!  You can tell from the email SafeMama received that Similac spent many hours sculpting a “we don't want to tell you, so we'll beat around the bush and pretend like we're answering your question” response.

    Here is what we know and what Similac is allowing us to know.  The new SimplePac™ container and lid is made of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) which indicated to me that the plastic container itself is BPA Free.  That much I know.  Here is where it gets tricky.  The representatives I spoke to, and I spoke to at least 3 because they kept transferring me when I pressed them for more information, will say this and only this:

    “No portion of the container that comes in contact with the formula contains BPA.”

    See the part I underlined?  That’s what concerns me.  They will not deviate from this scripted statement that I am sure their very expensive legal team created for them.  After the second rep transferred me to Pam, the Customer Relations representative specialist or whatever, I pressed further because I am not satisfied unless they say “Yes Ma’am, rest assured the whole thing is BPA Free.”

    I asked Pam about the foil seal that typically is present in formula containers to preserve the product on the shelf.  I had no idea if this product even had one, but she confirmed it does.  She would not however provide me with any information regarding the foil seal, what it was made of and whether or not the foil is coated with an epoxy resin.  Many times those coatings do contain BPA.  She told me:

    “We don’t have any information about that, I’m sorry.” And refused to delve any further claiming ignorance and denying she had any information to give me on the matter.  No information?  That sounds weird considering the company most CERTAINLY knows what its made of and what's on or not on it.   They don’t have any information they want parents to know is what it really means to me.

    Aarrrgghhh!  Just come out with it already.

    This issue with Similac is just icing on the cake for us at The Soft Landing.  Lately we've been barraged by companies with products they want us to introduce on our blog or carry in our store.  The only problem is that they seem to be made from “proprietary medical grade materials.”  Well what the heck does that mean?  So, basically, we don't get to know?

    Maybe they don't realize that our whole mission is to educate parents about the materials used in their children's feeding/teething gear.  While it's encouraging that the products are free of BPA/PVC/Phthalates, that still leaves us wringing our hands, hoping that the toys our babies are chewing on all day aren't made from 95% formaldehyde.

    A simple “oh, don't worry, you can trust us” just isn't going to cut it.  Parents are no longer willing to accept a sly used car salesman pitch like that.  Wouldn't it be great if companies like Similac woke up and realized that this is the information age?

    Okay – stepping down off the soapbox 🙂

    P.S.  If you're in the hunt for detailed info on other infant formula brands, check out the list compiled by the Environmental Working Group.

  • InCurrent Research, Toxic Chemicals

    FDA Says BPA is Safe, but Offers Tips for Decreasing Exposure

    FDA Says BPA is Safe, but Offers Tips for Decreasing ExposureToday we watched as a most intriguing line was clearly drawn on the BPA front.  Sides were chosen without reserve and it all began with the FDA's bolstered defense of the toxic chemical, which was quickly followed by tips for decreasing BPA exposure.

    Huh?  Did I miss something?

    Washington (AP) Sept. 16, 2008 – FDA Defends Plastic Linked with Health Risks

    “Right now, our tentative conclusion is that it's safe, so we're not recommending any change in habits,” said Laura Tarantino, head of the FDA's office of food additive safety. But she acknowledged, “there are a number of things people can do to lower their exposure.”

    Okay, so now that the FDA has come right out with it, how did the rest of the world respond?  Articles diametrically opposed could be found in most major news reports.

    ABC News Sept. 16, 2008 – Study: Some Water Bottles Linked to Diabetes: Doctors Say BPA Shows Up Too Often in Diabetics and Heart Patients

    Scientists reviewed the health of 1,455 American adults and found that people with higher concentrations of BPA in their urine were slightly more likely to have heart disease and diabetes.The researchers also estimate that most Americans are exposed to a higher level of BPA each day than the current Environmental Protection Agency recommendation.

    In an accompanying editorial, Frederick S. vom Saal and John Peterson Myers take the government to task, asking the United States and Europe to follow Canada's lead and regulate BPA.

    “The FDA and the European Food Safety Authority have chosen to ignore warnings from expert panels and other government agencies and have continued to declare BPA ‘safe,'” wrote the authors.

    . . . Ultimately, though, it may not even matter what the FDA does — a new report by the Investor Environmental Health Network says that consumers, manufacturers and retailers are already forgoing the chemical, buying and selling BPA-free bottles and other products. Wal-Mart and Toys ‘R Us have already announced their intention to shift away from products containing BPA. Which shouldn't be surprising — in America, commerce leaves science and the government in the dust.

    Washington Post Sept. 17, 2008 – Study Links Chemical BPA to Health Problems

    The first large study in humans of a chemical widely used in everyday plastics has found that people with higher levels of bisphenol A had higher rates of heart disease, diabetes and liver abnormalities, a finding that immediately became the focus of the increasingly heated debate over the safety of the chemical.

    The research, published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association by a team of British and American scientists, compared the health status of 1,455 men and women with the levels of the chemical, known as BPA, in their urine.

    The researchers divided the subjects into four statistical groupings according to their BPA levels and found that those in the quartile with the highest concentrations were nearly three times as likely to have cardiovascular disease than those with the lowest levels, and 2.4 times as likely to have diabetes. Higher BPA levels were also associated with abnormal concentrations of three liver enzymes.

    . . . On Capitol Hill, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) cited the study as he opened an investigation of the way the FDA has regulated the chemical, joining several Democrats, led by Rep. John D. Dingell (Mich.), who have been looking into whether chemical manufacturers unduly influenced the agency's stance.

    . . . More than 100 studies have linked BPA exposure to health effects in animals. The FDA maintains that BPA is safe largely on the basis of two studies funded by the chemical industry, a fact that was repeatedly cited at yesterday's forum.

    “We're concerned that the FDA is basing its conclusion on two studies while downplaying the results of hundreds of other studies,” said Amber Wise of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “This appears to be a case of cherry-picking data with potentially high cost to human health.”

    TIME Sept. 15, 2008 – Concerns About Chemicals in Plastics

    Though the FDA has ruled BPA safe, not everyone in the government agrees. Earlier this month the National Toxicology Program (NTP), a federal agency that gauges the safety of chemicals, reported that its research shows “some concern” about the effects of BPA on the brain development of fetuses and young children.

    These articles are a small sampling of the responses in opposition to the FDA's announcement.  We are personally more convinced than ever that a cautionary approach is warranted in relation to toxic plastic.

    The people have spoken – when will the FDA listen?

    photo credit: Redfishingboat (Mick O) via photopin cc