Some canned foods marketed for children contain an estrogen-like chemical called bisphenol A, according to a new report from the Breast Cancer Fund.
The group found that 12 canned soups and pastas popular among children contained BPA, sparking concern over the health effects of the chemical.
The average level of BPA in the 12 items tested was 49 parts per billion. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's estimate of safe exposure level is 50 ppb per day.
Disney Princess Cool Shapes, Shaped Pasta with Chicken in Chicken Broth topped the list with 148 ppb, followed by other Campell's products, Toy Story Fun Shapes, Shaped Pasta with Chicken in Chicken Broth.
One serving might be a concern, but a combination of repeated and re-exposure to BPA from cans marketed to kids is a bigger concern, said Connie Engel, science education coordinator at the Breast Cancer Fund, which seeks to expose and eliminate environmental causes of breast cancer.
The combination of these foods with other foods like canned fruits, juices, or vegetables would add up to levels of BPA exposure associated with breast cancer, prostate cancer, infertility in girls, and ADHD [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder], added Engel.
BPA is used in hard plastics and in the lining of metal food cans. In 2008, it was shown to leach out of plastic when heated, reports ABC News. In the European Union and Canada, BPA is banned in baby bottles. Even though the federal government of the United States hasn't taken the same steps, many local governments have, and leading U.S. baby bottle manufacturers went BPA-free voluntarily, according to ABC. But the chemical continues to line U.S. food cans.
There are still uncertainties as to the health effects of BPA. Laboratory studies in cells and animals have linked BPA to cancer, infertility, diabetes and obesity. But the effects of chronic exposure in humans remains unclear, added the report.
In 2008, the FDA said current research supported the safety of low levels of human exposure to BPA. But in 2010, the agency revised its stance to say recent studies suggest some uncertainty about the health risks, reports WebMD.com.
The Breast Cancer Fund's Cans Not Cancer campaign advocates that food manufacturers substitute safer substances for BPA, reports ABC News. A spokesman for Campell's said that according to regulatory agencies, the amount of BPA doesn't pose a threat to health.
He also added that finding safer alternatives to BPA was not an easy feat.
I think statements such as this, that there all alternatives and companies can just flip a switch, it's just not accurate, said Anthony Sanzio, Campbell Soup spokesman. At this point the industry has not identified a reliable alternative to BPA for large-scale production.