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Statewide Testing Finds More Than 90% of Canned Foods From Ethnic Groceries Contain the Toxic Chemical BPA

Nonprofit watchdog warns that shoppers at ethnic groceries face a much higher risk of toxic exposure

Oakland, CA-Shoppers at certain ethnic groceries have a much higher risk of exposure to the toxic chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) than other shoppers, according to testing by the nonprofit health watchdog the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) of 78 canned foods from from grocery stores that market to the Asian Pacific Islander communities in Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento and the Bay Area. BPA is a chemical known to cause serious reproductive health problems and linked with breast cancer, prostate cancer, and other serious illnesses.

In May, CEH found that just under 40% of cans from mainstream grocers contain BPA, but the new CEH testing shows that more than 90% (71 of 78) of cans purchased from these groceries contain the dangerous chemical. Additionally, CEH found that just 3 of the 71 cans testing positive for BPA were listed in a state database that is intended to list canned foods that contain BPA. In addition, the CEH testing showed that many cans (19%) from these stores contained PVC (vinyl), a toxic substitute for BPA.

“Our test results show a terribly alarming situation for consumers who buy canned food from ethnic grocery stores,” said Michael Green, CEO of the Center for Environmental Health. “Clearly when the state exempted canned foods from the warning rules about BPA, they utterly failed to consider the health risks to these communities and others who shop at these stores. We are calling on the Brown Administration to immediately withdraw this exemption and insure that all Californians are protected from this risky chemical in our food.”

BPA is an endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) that can alter the body’s natural hormones and cause serious health problems. Scientists say that tiny amounts of EDCs can affect the body, especially when people are exposed at critical developmental stages, such as during fetal development or puberty. Pregnant women and the developing fetus, children and teens may be most at risk from exposures to BPA from canned foods. In California, state scientists in 2015 unanimously agreed that BPA should be added to the state’s list of chemicals known to cause birth defects.

Normally this listing would require companies to warn consumers when canned foods pose a risk of BPA exposure, usually with product labeling. But after food industry lobbying, the state exempted canned foods from the warning law until the end of 2017. In place of the warning, the state developed a database of cans that contain BPA, but CEH found that just 3 of the BPA-tainted cans from ethnic groceries are listed in the state database.

The CEH test results and more information can be found at

The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) is a national nonprofit committed to ending health threats from toxic chemicals in our air, water, food and in products we use every day. We protect children and families from harmful chemicals by working with communities, consumers, workers, and government to demand and support safer business practices. We also work with major industries and leaders in green business to promote healthier alternatives to toxic products and practices.