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Food and Nutrition

ARCHIVED - Survey of Bisphenol A in Baby Food Products Prepackaged in Glass Jars with Metal Lids

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Bureau of Chemical Safety
Food Directorate
Health Products and Food Branch

A WHO Collaborating Centre for Food Contamination Monitoring

July, 2009

Health Canada is the federal department responsible for helping the people of Canada maintain and improve their health. We assess the safety of drugs and many consumer products, help improve the safety of food, and provide information to Canadians to help them make healthy decisions. We provide health services to First Nations people and to Inuit communities. We work with the provinces to ensure our health care system serves the needs of Canadians.

ę Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Health Canada, 2009.

Cat.: H164-79/3-2009E-PDF
ISBN: 978-1-100-12661-6

Help on accessing alternative formats, such as Portable Document Format (PDF), Microsoft Word and PowerPoint (PPT) files, can be obtained in the alternate format help section.

Table of Contents

Background

Bisphenol A (BPA) is the common name for 2,2-(4,4'-dihydroxydiphenyl)propane, 4,4'-isopropylidenediphenol, or 2,2'-bis(4-hydroxyphenyl)propane. It is used as an intermediate in the production of epoxy resins which are used in the internal coating for food and beverage cans to protect the food from direct contact with metal. Residues of BPA can migrate from these coatings into foods, especially at elevated temperatures (for example, for hot-fill or heat-processed canned foods). BPA is one of the 23000 chemical substances on the CEPA (Canadian Environmental Protection Act) Domestic Substance List (DSL) identified for further evaluation under the Government of Canada's Chemical Management Plan (CMP).

BPA was included in Batch 2 of the Challenge under CMP carried out by Health Canada and Environment Canada. On October 18, 2008, the Government of Canada released its final assessment report, including the Government's proposed risk management approaches to reduce Canadian exposure to BPA. Health Canada has committed to a research and monitoring agenda to further investigate potential human health effects of BPA and improve its understanding of Canadian exposure to this chemical through food sources. The purpose of this survey was to gather occurrence levels of BPA in baby food products, packaged in glass jars with metal lids, to contribute in updating the BPA exposure estimate for Canadians. The survey results pertaining to baby food products in glass jars with metal lids were also submitted for publication in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

Sampling Plan and Analytical Methodology

This survey covered 122 baby food products prepackaged in glass jars with metal lids that were marketed under 7 brands by 6 different companies. The products were purchased in August 2008 from local grocery stores in Ottawa. Of the 122 products, the presence of BPA could not be quantified for 23 products due to interference from sample matrices. Among these products, 14 products were classified as mixed dishes, 7 products were classified as fruit based, 1 product was classified as vegetable based, and 1 product was a beverage. Among the 99 products where BPA could be quantified, 34 products were classified as vegetable based, 31 products were classified as mixed dishes, 29 products were classified as fruit based, 3 products were classified as a dessert, 1 product was classified as a cereal, and 1 product was a beverage. These products covered at least 80% market share of the baby food products sold in Canada.

Health Canada continually works to develop more sensitive methods with detection limits as low as possible for the determination of chemicals in foods in order to support more accurate human exposure assessments. The method used previously by Health Canada for determination of BPA in liquid infant formula products was adapted and validated for the determination of BPA in baby food products. This method, with an average method detection limit (MDL) of 0.18 ng/g*, was used to determine levels of BPA in baby food products prepackaged in glass jars with metal lids that are sold in Canada. For each baby food product collected, two subsamples from each sample were analysed and the resulting average of the two analyses are shown in Table 1. Samples where BPA could not be determined due to interferences from sample matrices are listed in Table 2.

Notes:

  • The baby food samples were tested as consumed.
  • It should be noted that the absence of any particular brand from this survey means only that the brand was not included in the survey. No particular inference should be drawn from the presence or absence of any brand.
  • Samples represent a "snapshot" of the market at the time of sampling. Product names and availability correspond to the time of sampling and may not represent current products on the market. Differences between brands do not necessarily reflect differences in consumer exposure to BPA.
  • The results shown in Table 1 are generated for research purposes and should not be considered as representative of the distribution of BPA in all baby food products prepackaged in glass jars with metal lids or to assist or guide product choices for consumers.

BPA Levels in Baby Food Products

Table 1 summarizes the levels of BPA determined from the 99 samples of baby food products where interference from sample matrices did not impede the quantification of BPA. Concentrations of BPA in most of the baby food products were generally low; 15% of the products had BPA levels less than the average MDL (0.18 ng/g*), approximately 70% of the products had BPA levels less than 1.0 ng/g*, and the average BPA level for all products was 0.95 ng/g. These levels are well below the specific migration limit of 600 ng/g* set by the EC Directive for BPA in food or food simulant. Variation of BPA levels in different baby food products (0.19 to 7.22 ng/g*) could be due to the differences in metal lid coatings (type, amount etc.) or sterilization conditions (temperature and duration) used for different baby food products. 

Table 2 lists the 23 baby food products where BPA could not be determined due to considerable interferences with the sample matrices.  Although BPA may be present in some or all of these 23 baby food products, it could not be quantified due to this interference.

Health Significance of the Survey Results

In March, 2008, Health Canada's Food Directorate completed a Health Risk Assessment of BPA from food packaging applications+ to determine exposure estimates to BPA.  Health Canada's Food Directorate has concluded that:

  • The current dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and young children.
    • The nutritional benefits of baby food products far outweigh any possible risk.
  • In view of uncertainties related to datasets on possible neurodevelopmental and behavioural effects that BPA may have in experimental animals, Health Canada's Food Directorate has recommended that precaution be exerted on products consumed by the sensitive subset of the population, i.e. infants and newborns, by applying the ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) principle to reduce their exposure to BPA through food packaging applications.

Other international food regulatory agencies - notably in the United States, Europe, the United Kingdom and Australia-New Zealand - have reviewed the "Health Risk Assessment of Bisphenol A from Food Packaging Applications+", prepared by Health Canada's Food Directorate, and have confirmed that the conclusions reached are supported by the current scientific evidence as described in the document.

The results of this survey clearly indicate that exposure to BPA through the consumption of jarred baby food products would be extremely low.  The low levels of BPA found in jarred baby food products available for sale in Canada confirms Health Canada's previous assessment conclusion that the current dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging uses is not expected to pose a health risk to the consumer.

Table 1: Concentrations (ng/g) of BPA in baby food products prepackaged in glass jars with metal lids as consumed

  • It should be noted that the absence of any particular brand from this survey means only that the brand was not included in the survey. No particular inference should be drawn from the presence or absence of any brand.
  • Samples represent a "snapshot" of the market at the time of sampling. Product names and availability correspond to the time of sampling and may not represent current products on the market. Differences between brands do not necessarily reflect differences in consumer exposure to BPA.
  • The results shown in the table are exploratory and should not be used to indicate the distribution of BPA in baby food products packaged in glass jars with metal lids or as indices of good product choices for consumers.
 
Brand Brand name Product name Type BPA concentration (ng/g)
Beech-Nut Nutrition Corp. Beech Nut Vegetables and Beef, Strained Mixed Dishes 0.71
Beef and Beef Broth, Strained Mixed Dishes 1.37
Chicken and Chicken Broth, Strained Mixed Dishes 1.37
Sweet Potatoes, Strained Vegetable 1.40
Sweet Corn Casserole, Strained Vegetable 0.52
Apples and Oatmeal, Strained Fruit < MDL
Peaches, Strained Fruit 0.19
Apples and Blueberries, Strained Fruit 0.34
Vanilla Custard Pudding with Apples, Strained Fruit 0.29
Bananas, Strained Fruit < MDL
President's Choice Organics Strawberry Dessert, Strained Fruit 0.45
Apples and Apricots, Strained Fruit < MDL
Pears, Strained Fruit 0.34
Pears Fruit < MDL
Strawberry Dessert Fruit < MDL
Vegetables, Chicken and Rice Mixed Dishes 1.70
Vegetables and Turkey, Strained Mixed Dishes 1.08
Mixed Vegetables, Strained Vegetable 1.32
Green Beans, Strained Vegetable 1.62
Carrots and Peas, Strained Vegetable 1.11
Carrots, Strained Vegetable 0.95
Gerber Products Company Gerber Apricot with Mixed Fruits, Strained Fruit 0.59
Pears, Strained Fruit 0.40
Peaches, Strained Fruit 0.60
Apple Strawberry Banana, Strained Fruit 0.39
Peas, Strained Vegetable 1.60
Squash, Strained Vegetable 1.41
Carrots, Strained Vegetable 1.55
Sweet Potatoes, Strained Vegetable 1.38
Vegetable Chicken Dinner, Strained Mixed Dishes 1.50
Vegetable Beef Dinner, Strained Mixed Dishes 1.60
Chicken Noodle Dinner, Strained Mixed Dishes 1.08
H.J. Heinz Company of Canada Ltd. Heinz Wax Beans Vegetable 0.50
Peas and Carrots, Strained Vegetable 0.87
Butternut Squash Vegetable 0.95
Sweet Potatoes Vegetable 0.63
Carrots Vegetable 0.69
Green Beans Vegetable 1.30
Peas Vegetable 0.90
Creamed Corn, Strained Vegetable 0.24
Mixed Vegetables, Strained Vegetable 1.05
Peas Vegetable 0.74
Squash Vegetable 0.76
Apple Juice from Concentrate Beverage < MDL
Strawberry Dessert, Strained Fruit 0.26
Custard, Strained Dessert 0.83
Apples and Strawberries Fruit < MDL
Strawberry Dessert Dessert 0.24
Mixed Fruit with Oatmeal Cereal Cereal < MDL
Sweet Potato and Turkey, Strained Mixed Dishes 0.70
Vegetables, Rice and Chicken, Strained Mixed Dishes 0.62
Chicken Casserole with Vegetables and Rice, Strained Mixed Dishes 0.40
Vegetable and Turkey, Strained Mixed Dishes 0.75
Chicken Casserole with Vegetables and Rice Mixed Dishes 0.36
Vegetable Chicken and Fruit Medley Mixed Dishes 0.23
Turkey Stew Mixed Dishes 0.56
Country Casserole with Chicken Mixed Dishes 0.30
Turkey Rice with Vegetables Mixed Dishes 0.27
Peas, Organic Vegetable 0.75
Butternut Squash, Organic Vegetable 0.44
Sweet Potatoes, Organic Vegetable 0.54
Carrots, Organic Vegetable 0.68
Creamed Corn, Organic Vegetable 0.42
Apples and Strawberries, Organic Fruit < MDL
Green Beans and Apple Blend, Organic Mixed Dishes 0.84
Vegetables and Turkey, Organic Mixed Dishes 0.69
Vegetables and Chicken, Organic Mixed Dishes 1.09
Vegetable Beef, Organic Mixed Dishes 0.85
Hain Celestial Canada ULC Earth's Best Carrots, Organic Vegetable 0.66
Green Peas and Brown Rice, Strained, Organic Mixed Dishes 0.79
Green Beans and Brown Rice, Strained, Organic Mixed Dishes 1.19
Apples and Apricots, Strained, Organic Fruit 0.23
Apples and Blueberries, Strained, Organic Fruit < MDL
Peach and Apple Oatmeal, Strained, Organic Mixed Dishes < MDL
Vegetable Turkey Casserole, Organic Mixed Dishes 0.77
Apples and Bananas, Organic Fruit < MDL
My Organic Baby Inc. My Organic Baby Sweet Potatoes, Strained, Organic Vegetable 3.81
Carrots, Strained, Organic Vegetable 7.22
Vegetables, Organic Mixed Dishes 4.54
Apples, Strained, Organic Fruit 3.65
Apples and Apricots, Strained, Organic Fruit 1.85
Apples and Mango, Strained, Organic Fruit 2.66
Apples and Blueberries, Strained, Organic Fruit 2.29
Apples and Bananas, Strained, Organic Fruit 1.74
Sweet Potatoes and Chicken, Strained, Organic Mixed Dishes 7.17
United Grocers Inc. Simply Kids Peas Vegetable 0.48
Sweet Potatoes Vegetable 0.77
Squash Vegetable 0.73
Carrots Vegetable 0.71
Mixed Vegetables, Strained Mixed Dishes 0.44
Peas and Carrots, Strained Vegetable 0.84
Apples Fruit 0.22
Peaches Fruit < MDL
Pears Fruit < MDL
Apples and Raspberries, Strained Fruit < MDL
Strawberry Dessert, Strained Dessert 0.25
Vegetables and Chicken, Strained Mixed Dishes 0.59
Vegetables and Turkey, Strained Mixed Dishes 0.62
Vegetables, Rice and Chicken, Strained Mixed Dishes 0.32

Table 2: List of baby food products where BPA could not be determined due to interferences with sample matrices

Company / Manufacturer Brand Name Product Description Type
Beech-Nut Nutrition Corp. Beech Nut 'Good Evening' Creamy Chicken Noodle Dinner, Strained, Stage 2, From 7 Months Mixed Dishes
 'Good Evening' Hearty Vegetable Stew, Strained, Stage 2, From 7 Months Mixed Dishes
'Good Evening' Ham Dinner, Strained, Stage 2, From 7 Months Mixed Dishes
'Good Evening' Ginger Chicken and Vegetables, Strained, Stage 2, From 7 Months Mixed Dishes
Apples & Mango, Strained Fruit
President's Choice Organics Prunes & Pears, Strained, From 6 Months Fruit
Junior Beef Stroganoff, From 8 Months Mixed Dishes
Gerber Products Company Gerber Fruit Medley Dessert, Strained Fruit
Bananas with Mixed Berries, Strained Fruit
Bananas with Apples and Pears, Strained Fruit
Pear Pineapple, Strained Fruit
H.J. Heinz Company of Canada Ltd. Heinz Broccoli, Potato & Cheese Casserole, Strained Vegetable
Apple Prune Drink from Concentrate, Vitamin C Added Beverage
Vegetable Beef, Strained Mixed Dishes
Vegetables, Beef & Spaghetti, Strained Mixed Dishes
Alphabet Beef Mixed Dishes
Vegetables, Beef & Spaghetti Casserole Mixed Dishes
Spanish Chicken with Rice Mixed Dishes
Chicken Cacciatore Mixed Dishes
Vegetables & Pasta, Organic Mixed Dishes
Hain Celestial Canada ULC Earth's Best Vegetables & Pasta, Strained, Organic Mixed Dishes
United Grocers Inc. Simply Kids Bananas Fruit
Mixed Fruits, Strained Mixed Dishes


* 1 ng/g is equivalent to 0.001 µg/g or 1 part per billion (ppb)

+Health Risk Assessment of Bisphenol A from Food Packaging Applications. ISBN: 978-0-662-48686-2

In calculating the average BPA level for all products, each of the 15 values that were <MDL are assumed to be the same as the detection limit of 0.18 ng/g.