Many people are shocked when I tell them that canned tomatoes are bad. After all, tomatoes are a vegetable (or technically fruit), so how can they be bad? Well, it has more to do with the packaging than the actual food.
Bisphenol-A (BPA), A Harmful Chemical
Most of us know that BPA is harmful. BPA, shortened from bisphenol-a is a chemical used to coat the lining of cans and most plastic products.
BPA can leach into foods and drinks by way of plastic containers, Tupperware, bottles, and cans.
Children are most susceptible to the effects of BPA chemicals. Below are just a few of the health problems linked to BPA exposure…
- hormonal disruption
- reproductive harm
- increased risk of certain cancers
- malformation of organs in children
- risk of miscarriage
- sperm defects
- increased risk of mental disabilities in babies.
BPA exposure is widespread, mostly because BPA is in most plastics and we use use so much of it, especially around our food. A survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control found detectable levels of BPA in 93% of 2517 urine samples from people older than 6 years old.
Why Are Canned TOMATOES so bad?
It’s true that most cans have BPA lining, unless it is labelled otherwise, so why am I singling out canned tomatoes?
I’m focusing on canned tomatoes because since tomatoes are highly acidic, it draws out more of the BPA into the food from the lining. So, canned tomatoes have an especially high risk of leaching BPA into the tomatoes because of the acidity. This is not to say that other canned goods do not also pose BPA exposure risks (they most certainly do), but tomatoes are one of the worst offenders.
Is it JUST Canned Tomatoes that pose a risk?
No. Although canned tomatoes may draw out BPA more than other foods, any canned food can leech BPA into your food. One study from the Journal of Environmental Research showed that people had detectable levels of BPA in their urine after consuming canned foods including soup, fruits and vegetables. Therefore, I find it’s best to avoid canned foods as much as you can and try to choose glass jars instead.
Don’t be fooled by BPA-FREE Cans!
Unfortunately, BPA-free cans don’t really solve the problem. When the word started getting out about the dangers of BPA a few years ago, consumers started demanding that companies quit using BPA. So, companies responded to consumer pressure and largely removed BPA from their packaging, BUT they replaced it with another chemical that has similar associated health risks called BPS–Bisphenol S.
So, even though the thought of a BPA-free label may comfort many consumers, it’s a false promise. The cans and plastics labelled as BPA-free will still have some sort of chemical in them and usually it’s BPS. That’s why I always recommend using natural products like glass and stainless steel to avoid ANY type of plastic.
So what should you do if you want to use preserved tomatoes?
It’s not too hard to find alternatives for canned tomatoes. Below are 3 great options:
- Use organic tomatoes in glass jars like this
- Use fresh tomatoes instead
- Learn how to can your own tomatoes in jars
Luckily it’s not too hard to find healthy alternatives for using preserved tomatoes. That way it makes it easy to make tasty recipes like my chicken tomato soup!
This post was originally posted in January of 2014, but has been updated and republished in July of 2018 to include recent studies and updated photos.
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