Entire Food System May Be Contaminated with BPA

An article on Grist last week shared the findings of a new study which have found bisphenol A contamination in a number of products -- a result which is unfortunately becoming commonplace except for one critical factor: the foods testing positive for BPA were organic, locally sourced, and strangely enough, not packaged in plastic. According to contributor Susie Cagle, the study was conducted by Sheela Sathyanarayana and was published in The Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, and documented the differences in urinary bisphenol A and phthalate levels between a group of people who received written instructions on how to prepare foods without the chemicals, and a group that ate catered food which was organic and deemed BPA free by the researchers. According to Cagle's article:

The researchers assumed that urinary BPA and pthalate [sic] levels would drop in the catered group compared to the group using written instructions — people are generally bad at following advice from their doctors after all. “Instead we saw big spikes and increases in the catered diet group and no changes at all in the written education group,” she says.

Sathyanarayana’s team tested the food samples in the catered group to find the source of contamination. The culprits: milk, cream, and ground coriander. “I honestly don’t know why the spices were more contaminated or why the dairy had higher contamination, but I do know it’s consistent with other reports,” she says. …

The authors conclude in their study: “It may be that our findings reflect an isolated rare contamination event because of unusual processing or a packaging abnormality. It also could be the case that the food supply is systematically contaminated with high phthalate concentrations, which are difficult to identify.”

These discoveries are concerning, and indicate that even those who make a conscious effort to avoid bisphenol A may not be successfully able to eliminate it altogether. It will be important to note any further exploration that is done as a result of the study to understand the source of the contamination, and hopefully in so doing, it will be possible to cleanse foods of its seemingly ubiquitous presence. For more information on this study and its implications, please see the full article here.

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