Consumers’ Union is giving us the data needed to verify their results… and discover how BPA could have gotten into tuna packed in cans certified as BPA-free
by Randy Hartnell
Several years ago we learned about the potential hazards of food containers containing Bisphenol A (“BPA”).
While U.S., European and Japanese regulatory authorities consider the trace levels of BPA found in food containers safe for adults and infants alike, we consider our customers’ health and safety paramount and began to seek BPA-free alternatives.
We directed all of our canned seafood suppliers to source BPA-free containers, and agreed to absorb related cost increases. Earlier this year believed we had completed this transition, and announced it in our newsletter and on our website.
Earlier this month we were shocked to learn that in their testing, Consumer’s Union discovered trace levels of Bisphenol A in our canned tuna. We pledged to determine the explanation and correct it, and since then we have been working diligently to do so.
In the interest of keeping you informed we wanted to let you know where things stand.
We contacted CU to learn which product they tested, the lot numbers of the product, the test protocols and processes they followed, and their levels of detection (0.4 to .5 ppb).
We are particularly anxious to replicate their tests and find where in the production process the BPA might have entered our natural-pack tuna can, since, as CU itself pointed out, our cans are not lined with the type of epoxy in which BPA is typically used.
We contacted the suppliers of all our canned products to corroborate BPA-free claims made to us by them. Not all of these were backed by independently verifiable certificates, and we’ve asked that they be provided immediately for all cans and can lids.
We were dismayed to learn that specifying “BPA-free cans” is not adequate, and that we must also specify “BPA free lids” as well.
While we have yet to complete testing, at this time we believe that our tuna cans were indeed BPA free, but that the lids may not have been.
We have sought recommendations for and surveyed for-profit, non-profit, and university-based laboratories across the country to learn which were capable of replicating the CU tests and producing reliable results about the presence of BPA.
Of the many labs with whom we’ve spoken, so far we’ve found only one able to test to a threshold of less than 1 part per billion (ppb), and several that only test to 1 part per million (ppm).
It is interesting to note that had we conducted testing with the majority of labs, they would have returned negative results and we would have (accurately) claimed that our cans were “BPA-free” to a threshold of 1ppm.
Consequently, as distressing as this experience has been, it is equipping us with the insider knowledge needed to ensure the safest possible products for our customers.
It’s important to understand that the minuscule trace (20 ppb) of BPA found in our tuna was less than half the Environmental Protection Agency’s highly conservative 50 ppb safe maximum concentration for foods.
In fact, we’ve been told by several testing entities that 20 ppb of BPA is “no big deal”.
But it’s a big deal to us, because of our firm desire to provide our customers with the purest, healthiest, safest natural foods available.
We will continue to do everything in our power to resolve this issue as rapidly as possible.
President & Founder
Vital Choice Wild Seafood & Organics