Eden Foods recently announced that new amber glass jars will be used for all of the company's organic tomatoes and tomato sauces. The slight coloration of the glass helps to keep flavor and nutrients from light damage or photo-oxidation. They claim that theirs will be the only tomatoes in the U.S. to be packaged in such jars and explain the main impetus for switching over to amber glass jars is “the avoidance of bisphenol-A (BPA) in high acid food cans, and failure of the can manufacturers to make BPA free cans for tomatoes…Amber glass is difficult to get and more costly, but it best protects food. Amber glass is also free of the endocrine disrupter chemical bisphenol-A (BPA).” This statement comes in addition to Eden Foods’ beans, grain combinations and chilies having already been canned in BPA-free lining cans since 1999.
BPA raises concern as studies have shown the chemical to mimic the hormone estrogen and be linked to such health problems as infertility, breast cancer, prostate cancer, hormone imbalance, and premature puberty in women. This organic compound is most often used as a chemical building block in epoxy resins and polycarbonate plastic production, meaning that it can be found in just about every container that packages consumable, perishable products – baby bottles, canned food liners, water bottles, reusable food storage vessels, etc.
Treehugger followed up with Eden Foods to find out if the metal lids used in conjunction with the amber glass jars contain BPA and lauded the company for their straightforward response:
A search for a lid for our glass jars again confirmed 'there's no such thing as a perfect food package.' Regardless, we found the best there is. The inside of the twist caps has two coats of sealer between the food and the metal of the cap. The first applied coating has BPA present. The second protective sealant does not, isolating the first coating from contact with the jar's contents.
Potential for migration of BPA is reduced by the following:
1. An additional protective vinyl base overcoat facing the food, isolating the epoxy BPA containing coating. The coating containing BPA can never be in contact with the food.
2. The cap's inner surface is separated from the food by an area of air/vacuum.
3. The surface area exposed to the food is substantially less for a twist cap than for canned goods.
Today’s most stringent regulations for food safety is in the European Union where these twist caps have been tested as safe in regards to BPA for use on food products. Currently, we are told, there is no known viable alternative to BPA based epoxy coatings that provides the same level of corrosion resistance and is as safe. We continually push our cap suppliers to develop BPA free constructed caps that will deliver required corrosion resistance, shelf life, and safety.
Although these twist caps with amber glass jars are not the silver bullet to the BPA issue, they are an improvement. And as TreeHugger points out, Eden Foods should be recognized for being “open and transparent” about their food packaging. Perhaps with the Food and Drug Administration’s declaration last week expressing “some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children,” more companies will be following in Eden Foods’ footsteps.
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Lesley Lammers is a freelance sustainability consultant and journalist, focused on the intersection between the environment, food, social impact, human rights, health and entrepreneurship.