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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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January 12 2012

Are Your Canned Foods Safe to Eat?: A BPA-Free Buying Guide

By Mark Sisson
137 Comments

By now, you’re undoubtedly aware of BPA, or bisphenol A, and its ubiquitous presence in can liners, plastics, and even receipts. I wrote about its status as a xenoestrogen with the ability to interact with hormonal receptors in animal bodies, as well as its potentially deleterious effects on humans – especially tiny growing humans – and the general takeaway is that avoiding BPA as much as possible is in all our best interests. We can’t avoid everything, but we can do a fairly good job of it. Luckily, the consumers (that’s you) have spoken up loud enough to get companies to pay attention to the way they line their cans so that while BPA remains a pervasive issue, more and more BPA-free products are being introduced. This is good, but which ones are BPA-free isn’t always evident. Grocery stores don’t generally have a BPA-free section (how awesome would that be?) and some (like Trader Joe’s) don’t even put the label on their products.

Hence this post. What follows is my attempt at a comprehensive BPA-free list of commonly sought-after Primal foods. I tried to shoot for products that are widely available online, but I wasn’t always able. You’ll also note that I stuck to Primal-friendly foods; I didn’t think mentioning the latest BPA-free can of fried gluten with peanuts made much sense, ya know? In any case, here’s the list!

Coconut Milk

Obviously, the best BPA-free coconut product is the coconut itself. Mother nature has always used BPA-free lining (she was way ahead of the curve), so you can safely eat fresh coconut and coconut oil and make coconut milk from the fresh meat and you’ll be fine. But not everyone has ready access to fresh coconut, nor does everyone have the time (or the machete) to open up a coconut and process it into milk. For everyone else, the historic go-to option for coconut products has almost invariably come in a can lined with ample amounts of BPA. Not anymore:

Native Forest Coconut Milk

BPA-free and proud of it, Native Forest offers an organic coconut milk widely available for sale in bulk via Amazon. I’ve never tried it myself, but the reviews – as you can see from the Amazon link – are quite mixed. They apparently source the coconuts from various locales, with Thailand producing the best milk and Sri Lanka producing inferior milk. Again, I don’t know personally, but keep that in mind before you order two dozen cans.

Aroy-D Coconut Milk and Cream

My personal favorite, Aroy-D, comes straight from Thailand (which has the best coconuts, in my opinion) and contains nothing but coconut and water. The tetra-pak versions are completely BPA-free, and the best product is the large quart sized box of coconut cream (which you can treat like a higher-fat milk), but the milk, which comes in both quart and single-serving sizes, is also delicious (but a bit lower in fat, about 2 grams per serving worth). I get mine at the local Asian supermarkets for about 3 bucks a quart.

Trader Joe’s Light Coconut Milk

I had to call and confirm with the manager of my local Trader Joe’s, but these cans do not contain BPA. The only downside is that they contain “light” coconut milk, which means they have a lower fat content. Not so great for curries, but pretty good for drinking straight or making smoothies. They’re also free of thickeners or weird gums.

Coconut Cream Concentrate in a glass jar

It ain’t milk, but sources say that adding warm water to the coconut cream concentrate will produce a rich, creamy coconut milk. And it’s a glass jar, so you don’t have to worry about BPA at all (though I suppose the lid might have it). Here are US and Canadian links. International shipping is available through the US site, too.

Tomato Products

If you remember from that older BPA post, canned tomato is one of the worst offenders when it comes to BPA exposure. It’s highly acidic, making BPA in cans “essential.” And yet, tomato is a wonderful, even essential food. So – what to do? Bite the BPA-emblazoned bullet and eat them anyway? No. You can can your own tomatoes, but other, safer commercial options are out there:

Pomi Chopped Tomatoes

Pomi Chopped Tomatoes, out of Italy (where I hear they know a thing or two about tomatoes), comes in a BPA-free tetra-pak. Word on the street is that although they aren’t certified organic, they are in everything but name.

Bionaturae Tomato Paste and Strained Tomatoes

This is the brand I currently use. The paste is incredible – it comes in a glass jar (with a BPA-free lid, which is an important point that some people miss, especially when dealing with acidic, BPA-leaching foods like tomatoes; not all glass jars use BPA-free lids), contains nothing but tomatoes, and can be eaten (and often is) straight out of the jar. These are a bit dangerous, because they’re somewhat pricey and I can easily eat an entire jar in a sitting. Maybe I should say “standing,” because I usually find myself polishing one off while I’m cooking in the kitchen. I’ve taken to stocking up on these. The strained tomatoes are also good and come in similarly BPA-free packaging. Members of Tropical Traditions can get better deals in bulk, I believe. I highly recommend this brand.

Seafood

Ah, the sardine. So delicious and nutritious and sustainable and free of mercury and yet so difficult to find fresh. Canned versions abound, but they’re all full of BPA… right? Not so fast. Other options exist:

Wild Planet Tuna and Sardines

My local Costco just started carrying BPA-free Wild Planet albacore tuna, skipjack tuna, and sardines. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Wild Planet, but it wasn’t until recently that I actually tried the products. They’re fantastic. Both the albacore and the skipjack are line and troll-caught, which is a sustainable method of procuring smaller, tastier tuna with less mercury than regular tuna. They’re both high in DHA and EPA, with albacore clocking in at 2.3 g DHA and 720 mg EPA per can, and skipjack close behind with 928 mg DHA and 285 mg EPA per can. The sardines are bone- and skin-in, providing hefty amounts of minerals alongside 885 mg DHA and 210 mg EPA. Oh, and they taste better than any similar product I’ve tried. Check out their offerings on Amazon; international shipping can be handled by calling the company direct.

Update: Mark’s Daily Apple reader Chris emailed Wild Planet to double check my personal experience as noted above and this is what they had to say:

Hello Chris,

Thank you for question about our products. Wild Planet aims to convert all of its canned products to cans with BPA-Free linings. We have successfully done so with all our sardine offerings. Our tuna products were marked BPA-free based on the manufacturer’s certification that the can linings were formulated without BPA. Upon independent testing of these cans we found that while the level is very low there is some content of BPA in the product. We are working on this issue very actively right now and hope to have definitive information soon.

As for the salmon cans, there is no BPA-free lining available in Alaska and our attempts to make BPA-free salmon has not rendered good results. But we will keep trying.

Thank you for question and I hope this helps.
Elizabeth

Thanks, Chris!

Trader Joe’s (certain choices)

Most sources I found suggest that Trader Joe’s seafood comes in BPA-free cans, except for sardines, albacore, oysters, clams, and crab (though they are working to rectify that). So the various salmons and tongol tuna, and maybe the anchovies (but I wouldn’t bet on it) should be BPA-free (but ask a manager first).

Vital Choice Canned Seafood

Way back in 2008, Vital Choice finally figured out how to make all their canned seafood items ship in BPA-free cans, but in 2009, Consumer Reports found trace amounts of BPA in Vital Choice tuna. The company responded, including a section of mild apologism for BPA (which is worrying) and concluding with a declaration of intent to purge all BPA for good. What’s the final word? I would avoid their tuna to be safe and stick to their salmon, sardines, and mackerel, which never tested positive for BPA.

Oregon’s Choice Seafood

A small outfit out of (you guessed it) Oregon, Oregon’s Choice uses only BPA-free cans to store the tuna they obtain from trusted fishermen. Pretty pricey, but it seems to be of the utmost quality. Sadly, they don’t claim that any of their other products are BPA-free, which almost certainly means they are not.

Pumpkin

Add it to broth for a nourishing quick soup, add some gelatin and hot water to make a custard, add it to your dog’s food to prevent diarrhea, or just spoon it straight outta the can hobo-style. Sure, fresh pumpkin is great and not that time-consuming to prepare, actually, but there’s nothing wrong with a quality canned item. Luckily, there are a couple BPA-free options out there, and another on the horizon:

Farmer’s Market Foods Organic Canned Pumpkin

Certified BPA-free, decent online reviews, available from Amazon in bulk. I haven’t tried it myself, but it looks pretty good. They also carry canned sweet potato and butternut squash, all BPA-free.

Pacific Natural Pumpkin Puree

I picked up one of these tetra-paks over the holidays. We were making pumpkin custard and I didn’t feel like peeling, cutting, and steaming a whole pumpkin, and I was about to grab the Whole Foods brand of canned pumpkin when I saw this. It’s apparently quite new, so new that it’s not even on the Pacific Natural website. The custard turned out well.

Trader Joe’s Canned Pumpkin

As of 2012, new cans should be BPA-free, but I wouldn’t count on it just yet. To be sure, ask the manager of your local establishment.

Well, those are the big problem areas in the Primal community as I see it: coconut milk, tomatoes, canned seafood, and pumpkin (and other squashes). Heck, you could probably devise a pretty decent diet out of the aforementioned choices. You’d have your saturated fat, omega-3s, protein, sea minerals, soluble fiber, and antioxidant needs covered. It might not be optimal, but I’d argue that such a diet would be superior to most people’s out there.

Before I wrap this up let me say that companies are changing their packaging all the time, so it’s up to you to be diligent about which cans contain BPA and which do not. This article will age and it’s possible that some of the recommendations I’ve made here will no longer be relevant in the future. Hopefully they still help you find what you are looking for, but just remember to check with the supplier before making your purchase.

Anyway, chime in with comments, tips, and links to other BPA-free products. Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

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137 thoughts on “Are Your Canned Foods Safe to Eat?: A BPA-Free Buying Guide”

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    1. From Muir Glen’s web site:

      “Muir Glen has been working diligently with our can suppliers to develop and test alternative linings that do not use BPA, and we have successfully identified and tested an alternative that has proven safe and viable in our processing of tomatoes. We are transitioning to cans with liners that do not use BPA as we are canning this year’s tomato harvest.”

      Yay!

      1. Unfortunately, this does not rule out the possibility of harm from the new lining. This is what cracks me up about BPA-free plastic. It’s still full of other toxins.

        1. Thank you for pointing this out. “BPA-free” does not equal “healthy/safe.”

        2. That was my thought as well.. what exactly does BPA-free mean.. i.e., what toxins did they manage to replace BPA with? still, it’s a start.. obviously it’s best to avoid it as best you can..

        3. yes, excellent point. Chris Kresser wrote an article about this recently, it’s highly recommended

        4. I agree as well… plastic is plastic, trading one for another might be a step in the right direction, but glass is a sure bet. Mark, you should make a note of this in your post. I know the coconut concentrate is in glass, and you can get tomato paste in glass… anyone know of any seafood in glass?

      2. I talked to a packaging pro who knows general mills and muir glen is not there yet, so wait until they label it! In fact, many Trader Joes items are actually not bpa free. I don’t think store managers really know. It is such a buzz word now I’m guessing when product cans are truly bpa free they will label it as such!

      3. They’ve been saying this for several years. Has it finally come to pass?

  1. Lol I got a BPA free coffee mug and BPA free tupperware containers for christmas.

  2. Hey, just a heads up for home canners, too! The majority of home canning lids now contain BPA in the plastic lining. Golden Harvest (from Canada) is still unlined, but not widely available. Or Tattler reusable canning lids, they are also BPA free but need to be ordered online in most cases.

    1. I read about this – it’s a shame that they make it so difficult to find the BPA-free lids. I love my mason jars!

      1. I have been using mason jars for everything. No worries about plastic here. I even get my raw milk from a dairy that uses half gallon glass Ball jars.

        1. When I was getting raw milk from a family farm, the jars always had a square of wax paper under the lid so that when you shake the milk it doesn’t touch the lid.

      2. I ordered the Tattler reusable canning lids from their website and had them in no time. I do not use plastic at all anymore. I have a lot of mason jars and vintage refrigerator dishes with lids.

        1. I ordered my lids from them and they were so quick to arrive. I had wonderful results in my canning and I have organic primal Chicken soup. And am working on making grass fed primal chili along with many other items. Chicken, Pulled pork as I am low on freezer space. Tattler lids have sold me on them

        2. Just a few warnings about the Tattler lids.
          These lids do NOT have as good a seal rate as metal lids. So it’s frustrating when you spend all that time cooking and canning and then 30% of your jars don’t seal, OR they come unsealed later in the pantry.
          Also, there are different and VERY specific instructions on how to use the rings and when to screw down, etc. The boxes DO NOT say use a towel to cover when tightening and my hubby got boiling soup in his face when one seal blew out while still hot (he was tightening the rings as per the instructions.) The website does mention to use a towel to cover but does not state that these are more dangerous than metal lids.
          Also the plastic is safe up to 250 degrees, so people sure make sure to keep the temps lower (and time longer) with these.
          They also seem to seal better with simple foods (mostly acid/tomato) than they do with things like chili and soup.
          And the rubber rings are not eternal-need to be replaced after several uses. And it takes at least 5-6 uses before these lids pay for themselves when equating them with regular metal lids.
          SO it’s really a mixed bag, and a scalded face seemed to be the nix point for us.

    2. Thanks for the info. I just started canning tomatoes this past summer. I thought I was BPA-free 🙁 Goes to show how diligent you must.

      1. * Goes to show how diligent you must BE. – One of my New Year Resolutions was to proof-read my internet posts. I’ve already broken it several times over.

  3. I’m never too worried about BPA; I have trouble enough just avoiding poisonous foods to begin with. I find when I eat real whole foods, I don’t really use that many canned products to begin with anyway. BPA free steel water containers are pretty easy to find, and BPA free tuna fish doesn’t seem that hard to find either, at least for me anyway.

    1. I’m in the same boat as you right now. With junk food all around me, I’m very pleased when I am able to eat only primal foods. If I throw canned chicken into a salad like I did today I am not going to worry about it.

      I am aware of the problems of BPA. Soon, I’ll probably avoid all BPA canned goods. Even if its a year away I don’t have too much concern.

      Stress is a killer too!

  4. Unfortunately I do alot of my own canning (including my own tomatoes for the first time this year!) and finding that the lids have BPA in them recently is big problem!

    Hopefully some makers out there will make BPA free lids sometime soon!!

    1. Tattler lids are BPA free. I have some and they are great. Relatively cheap too but they are only sold online as far as I know. Good stuff. Google them.

    2. How about this: don’t turn your bottles upside down. Then the food won’t be touching the BPA.

      1. That was absolutely my thought as well. Cans need head room anyway, there’s no reason the food needs to touch the lid. And even if they do need to be turned for part of it, the exposure time is quite limited.

        Then again, I’m also one of those people who isn’t particularly freaked out by BPA.

        1. When canning, even with the head space and not turning the jars upside down, the product is bound to boil up to the lid when either doing a water bath or pressure canning. I’m switching to the tattler lids for canning this year.

  5. I love the Wild Planet sardines… except for the spinal cord. I know it shouldn’t bother me–the actual spine doesn’t–but seeing that spinal cord (or worse, feeling it in my mouth) is really disgusting to me.

  6. Re: tomatoes and home canning. I have been home canning tomatoes from my garden for decades. There really is not a safety issue since tomatoes have a high acid content. My “Bible” for canning is an old Ball brand canning jar cookbook.

    I do not can non-acidic veggies from my garden, since we usually eat them as we pick them.

    Our yard is getting too shaded by neighbors trees so last year I bought a big flat of organic tomatoes at a local farm, and we are still enjoying them.

    Re: Trader Joes products – our local Joes sells a lot products that do not have the Trader Joes brand, like Muir Glen. I tend to gravitate to national brands where you can get quality ingredient info from the company.

  7. I always can my tomatoes as well as any other vegetables or fruits I get my hands on. Once you start using tomatoes from glass jars you can never eat them from a tin again!!! This year my goal is to try and grow and can all the tomato products I need, chunked (chili and salsa) and sauce. I have been working on a bean free chili recipe and I think I got it down so we will be making lots of that!

  8. I canned half my tomatoes this year and just froze the other half with the skins on. I just throw them in stews, soups etc whole and pull the skins out afterward. Or, if I need them in a recipe where I can’t throw them in whole, I thaw them in the fridge and the skin comes right off. Easy! Only thing is the thawed version leaves a lot of liquid behind which sometimes messes a bit with my recipe.

    1. Oh ya–I also baked roasted whole pumpkins in the oven and scooped out the pulp. I put some in containers and threw them in the freezer. Again, it separates upon thawing but I just use the liquid anyway.

      Lastly, there are plenty of articles on PubMed showing that “BPA-free” plastics still contain some BPA. It’s now that ubiquitous that it is impossible to totally eliminate, even in laboratories.

  9. I was curious about this a while back and emailed the company that packages the canned seafood I buy (Natural Sea Wild Premium Alaskan Pink Salmon). They wrote back saying they use BPA free cans. Yay!

  10. Awesome post!! I’ve been wondering about this lately, so this is a great resource. Thanks Mark!

  11. yessss. i get all my coconut milk from trader joe’s (it’s cheap and convenient). so happy to hear they are BPA-free!

  12. I just discovered the wild planet sardines at costco as well! I was already getting them because they were the best-value cleaned sardines I could find at whole foods. Getting them by the case for even cheaper is even better!

    1. I need to get on this. I noticed they now have canned beef but did not see the Wild Planet Tuna or sardines. I’ve purchased Wild Planet Tuna from Amazon before and it hit the spot. I’d love to have another 12 pack ready for my big ass salads!

  13. You can make coconut milk from packaged dried unsweetened coconut shreds. Easy to find several different “recipes” on line.

    It is not as thick as canned and has a fresh coconut taste contrary to canned.

    It is not difficult to make after you figure out a good method with your tools. If you are like me, making it may be a bit messy.

  14. Yet another toxin to deal with in this chemical-laden world, but is it as dangerous as purported? Yesterday I read that red wine might not be so healthy because the main scientist’s work was fabricated, so who to believe? I think that as long as you are not eating canned EVERYDAY, then ocassional eating of such items won’t matter much. Are you mostly eating whole foods that are primal? Probably ok then. Maybe I’m wrong though and bpa is estrogenizing me as we speak! LOL

    Nevertheless, thanks again Mark for finding all the bpa-free brands!

    1. Don’t fret over the wine mon amie. Dr. Das was a major researcher into the Cardiovascular effects of resveratrol. There has been plenty of other independant research on the many boons of resveratrol both cardiovascular and otherwise published in many a peer reviewed journal. I wrote a research paper on resveratrol a few years back and when I pop’d it open to check to see if I had referenced any of Das’ work I found 20 or so references to original research where Das had nothing to do with it. So imho red wine is probably still pretty good for you 🙂 Thank goodness !

  15. Thanks so much for covering this! Canned sardines & oysters are my go-to lunch. I order dozen packs of crown prince oysters off amazon, sooo happy they’re BPA-free!!!

    1. Your comment made me appreciate living in the smallest state yet ironically has some of the highest national: taxes, unemployment, and corruption. But the seafood. I live 20 minutes from an oyester farm. Love them!

  16. My concern is what are the companies replacing BPA WITH? Will we find out in five or ten years that the replacement lining is worse than BPA?

  17. Native Forest is “BPA-free and proud of it”? Maybe I’m missing it on their site, but I don’t see anything claiming a BPA-free status. I also emailed them awhile back, asking whether their cans were BPA-free, and I never got a response from them.

    1. I can’t find that Native Forrest coconut milk is BPA free either! It says nowhere on the can that it is BPA free. This may be a case of a rumor spreading through the internet that is actually benefiting a company, ha!

  18. I’m with Donna – exactly what is the replacement? Still not feeling warm and fuzzy…

  19. Has anyone here tried the Tropical Traditions eggs? Their feed isn’t grass fed instead it is coconut based with fish and crab meal. I don’t think they use grain…It’s hard to get grass fed eggs where I am, esp. in this cold weather. Seems like they should be great eggs although their site does not mention the Omega 3 content of their eggs. I’d hope they’d have at least 600 mg. Omega 3 to balance the 660 mg. of Omega 6 in most/all eggs so as to have a near 1-1 6/3 ratio.

  20. Thanks for the detailed list on BPA free food options. BPA is definitely a concern of mine. It is the reason I tossed out all my plastic water bottles years ago and replaced them with metal ones.

  21. I recall Jack Lalanne-isms:

    “If man made it, hate it”

    I also remeber a saying a long the lines: “If it is made by man, or comes in a can, it is not part of my plan”.

  22. I can attest to the WONDERFULNESS of the Aroy-D milk in the tetra pak. Amazing stuff. I tried thinning the coconut cream (to save moolah), and sadly, it just is not the same. It’s useful for desserty stuff, but not for drinking, imo. But the milk…ah, heaven.

    Gonna order the Italian chopped tomatoes. Been looking for BPA safe good ones. TAHNKS.

  23. as the late great Jack always said, “If man f*#%k’d with it, it’s poison. Too bad he didn’t get the stress thing down. eat foods as close to the source as possible. stay away from process junk!

  24. You mentioned the Canned coconut milk from trader joes, but do you know about the kind in the 1 qt. cardboard boxes?

  25. Great post but am wondering if the tetra paks have aluminum lining or what it is they are lined with. Thanks for the info.

    1. I wonder the same thing. I’d love a post comparing tetra paks, BPA cans, and BPA free cans. Obviously glass is best, but nothing is sold in glass! I’m afraid that by switching to tetra paks I might be jumping out of the aluminum pot into the teflon frying pan, so to speak.

      I envy Grok and his simple existence sometimes!

  26. I buy the Native Forest in bulk from Amazon and have only received quality Thai Coconut milk. You can also purchase it at Whole Foods and they do have bulk pricing on most items if you ask.

  27. We love the Native Forest coconut milk. If you keep it in the fridge, unmoved for about 10 days, you can get a nice layer of cream, too. The can says that it is from Thailand.

  28. Just wondering, even if the Ball jar lids have BPA, how much is this going to affect food if it isn’t touching the lid when it’s stored? I know that the jam I made last summer has at least 1/4 inch between the top of the jam and the lid. Even if it was something like tomatoes or beans, usually the liquid doesn’t touch the inside of the lid when the jar is upright. Logically, one would assume that without direct contact the BPA couldn’t leach into the food, but over the years I’ve discovered that the logical answer isn’t always the right one.

    1. My husband who is a Ph.D. chemical engineer says that the estrogenic compounds in plastics leach out through liquid contact because the estrogens are soluble in water. This includes steam (I don’t know anything about canning, if you need to put the lids on while the jars are hot), otherwise it’s fine.

  29. I wish we had “Trader Joe’s” in London, Ontario, Canada. 🙁

  30. The “Bear and Wolf” canned Pink Wild Salmon, available at Costco in rolls of 6 cans, is completely BPA free. I had a long conversation with one of the Trident representatives about this.

    I have actually heard that the TJ’s coconut milk isn’t necessarily BPA-free – check out some of the work by Treehugger on this.

    As I wrote above, the Native Forest has been excellent – we’ve been doing Amazon subscribe and save (15% off and free shipping) on it for a couple of years now.

  31. Most of my canned food is definitely not primal. I cycle it out slowly in case there is ever an emergency and fresh food is unavailable. I’d rather eat junk food than not eat if the market was stripped bare after a disaster, and occasionally eating canned chili or soup can’t be that bad for you.

    Still, I prefer to buy as much as possible fresh, and most of the rest in glass jars.

  32. be good to mention here that there are common substances that have some documented effect on degrading BPS once consumed –

    Black Tea
    Probiotics (specifically the good buggie in Kim Chee)
    Melatonin

    good to know if you have a kid – a tiny piece of melatonin can work wonders at bedtime after a hectic day and help reverse the BPA that may have – probably did get – into your kids system that day (and not feeding sugary desserts ALSO helps get the kid to sleep)–

    for big people – black tea and kim chee is an odd but palatable snack-

  33. If it aint metal…its plastic…and the new stuff they are gonna use…who’s done the tests on that?…Thats why we try to eat as much FRESH as possible…LIMIT the amount of cans in your house as Best you are able to work with>>>

  34. This seems really hopeless in the UK. Any know of any BPA-free tuna?

  35. Anyone know about Whole Foods brand stuff? (tomatoes, coconut milk)

    1. I have been wondering that too. I don’t buy their 365 canned goods (I stick with Tetra or glass), but it would be nice to know. I’ll send them an email.

  36. I believe that S&W organic( I get mine from costco) are BPA free too. Not for sure though. I sure hope so because that’s what I use. I like Native Forest coconut milk and we buy it on amazon all the time!

  37. Man, living in Canada, I dont know where to find BPA-free lined anything without paying out the ass for it.

  38. Just to clarify, the home canning lids shouldn’t really be a problem, right? You are always supposed to leave some headspace in the jar, so no food should be in contact with the lid for extended periods of time during storage. If it is a goopy food, like tomato paste, which might get onto the lid, you can just discard the top half inch and be okay, since the applesauce isn’t really a liquid and the BPA-molecules won’t be traveling freely throughout the jar. So home-canning, if you’re into that, still seems like a smart option.

  39. Mark, you are amazing. When I read the title, I was thinking “The only canned things I eat are pumpkin, coconut milk, tomatoes and sardines.” Exactly what you covered!

  40. Practically everything I eat lately comes from a can. Salmon, fruit.. and yeah that’s practically everything I eat lately, with a few additions like chopped onion and garlic and spice in the salmon and Salvation Army soup. Beggars can’t be choosers.
    I’m careful with my canned food though to try not to get any extra can lining in it. If there’s salmon stuck to the inside of the can I use my fingers to get it out to avoid scratching the lining off.
    I do worry a bit about BPA but I try to eat and drink things that cleanse the system (pineapple, herbal tea) and keep my testosterone raised. Cocoa apparently does this. Garlic does. I think red ginseng might help. I drink the extract sometimes and an instant tea version. Working out regularly helps and I just recently got a girlfriend, that’s probably a nice hack too.

  41. Great post! Does anyone know why there are no trader joes in Colorado? Moved here not too long ago and sure miss the TJ’s.

  42. Good timing with this topic!!! I eat pretty clean but still worry about things like the frying pans i cook in and BPA and all that. This week i decided to kick my canned tuna addiction. It was getting out of hand and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t doing me any favours. It’s been all fresh this week and I’m loving it!!! QUESTION: Don’t know if anyone has to avoid FODMAPs (fermentable sugars), but is coconut milk considered a ‘safe’ item (ie it doesn’t cause IBS symptoms)????

  43. in the solving one problem but creating another department…

    be very careful w/ the tetra packs, esp. for coconut milk/cream.

    tetra packs usu. require the use of stabalizers…and a frequent choice is gwar gum which is a huge culpret in gut irritation…

    so guess we need to pick our poison…

  44. There is an organic pumpkin puree in a BPA-free tetra pack made by Fig Foods Co. that my local Whole Foods carries. (I’m in California.)

  45. If anybody needs other canned goods not listed above, Eden brand is also BPA-free. For food STORAGE (as in after the meal’s over), Ziplock brand containers are also BPA-free.

    Yes, good old Tupperware and it’s knockoffs are laden with the stuff.

  46. Such useful information! I might need to print this out and take it shopping with me. Thanks for investigating this for us!

  47. Great post! However, I would LOVE to know about BPA in canned beverages. My husband gets free cans of Talking Rain sparkling water at his work and I’m wondering if those have BPA. Also, Zevia brand beverages.

    I know neither of those are probably strict primal, but I’m still curious.

    Thanks!

  48. Is seafood from the Pacific Ocean safe to eat? I love Wild Planet Foods sardines–they’re the best I’ve ever had–but they’re caught off the West Coast of North America.

  49. Thanks for this comprehensive list! Unfortunately, it’s still difficult to find these items locally where I live. No TJ, Whole Foods, or Costco here. I do most of my shopping at the farmers market, and go for fresh over packaged, but still need to frequent the grocery store for a few items. Will keep this list in mind as, hopefully, more things become available.

  50. For those concerned with canning jar lids, I agree with the assumption that headspace should protect the contents. However, if you would like an alternative you can purchase German-made Weck canning jars (http://www.weckcanning.com/). They have glass lids and seal by way of a rubber gasket (you use clips to hold the lid on while processing).

    Also glad that it was mentioned that BPA-free does NOT equal “safe”. Plastic is a problematic material. Whenever possible I use glass as an alternative, stainless steel, cast iron… plastic lids are understandable if they are not in constant contact with your food (and sometimes necessary – if brewing kombucha, for example) but otherwise… no thanks.

  51. There goes Mark again, reading my mind. I was just looking into this. I, too, have concerns about linings in Tetra-paks as well as other bisphenol-like substances. Apparently, there is another form of it that may be just as bad or worse.

    Also, can someone please riddle me this: what did food producers use before the advent of plastic linings? I grew up in the 70’s and don’t recall fear of unlined cans being a huge concern. Why do cans have to be lined at all?

  52. So what’s the word on those plastic freezer bags and containers? I don’t can stuff, I freeze it. But I have been wondering how safe my containers are.

  53. Just make your own coconut milk – it tastes so much better. Just get coconut flakes (I get mine from tropical traditions because there is no ick like propelyne gycol in it just dried coconut.

    1 cup coconut
    1 cup hot water

    Let soak in blender for 15 minutes or so.
    Blend, blend – strain, squeeze the milk out of the ground up coconut. Mmmm drink the milk, dry the shredded coconut to use in a recipe.

    Simple.

  54. Eden Foods, a family-owned company in Clinton, Michigan, has tomatoes in amber (brown) glass jars. They have a lot of organic foods… Their organic beans have been in BPA-free cans for a few years. Good quality, no affiliation.

    I love their crushed tomatoes for pizza sauce & spaghetti.

  55. Canned pumpkin???!!!! How weird is that. In australia I doubt there is any such thing, you buy a whole one or a large piece off the shelf. If things are made overly convenient people will buy them no doubt, or is it a weather issue?
    Stranger than fiction.

  56. It looks to me like No Name brand and Unico brand tomato paste has the lowest levels of BPA…

  57. The middle of winter is the worst time to hear about BPA in can liners. There are options, but my best is to shrug and remember that something already has wrecked my reproductive organs. I can save up to buy enough bushels to last a year when they are in season.

  58. I’m saving this! I will have to peruse your blog. I get lots of canned beans from Trader Joe’s and am hoping they are BPA free. The easiest alternative for me would be cooking and freezing beans myself.

  59. I love the site, but unless you are absolutely sure the cans are bpa free I wish you would not post it! The info needs to come from the manufacturing side not the store personel.

  60. I have low grade prostate cancer and have been told to eat as many tomatoes any way I can. Now I read the other day there are 5 things you should not eat if you have prostate cancer and one is canned tomato products. These tomato product companies need to fix this BPA problem now!

  61. Dear Mark,

    I am online marketing director for Vital Choice Wild Seafood & Organics.

    I’d like to make two points:

    1) We did not issue a “mild apologia” for BPA … we simply reported the latest news (at the time of the article) about its endocrine effects.

    2) It makes no sense to tell people to avoid canned Vital Choice Albcore Tuna, unless you are going to tell people to avoid ALL foods in cans certified to be BPA-free.
    (BTW, all major national tuna brands openly use cans lined with BPA-infused resins.)

    Vital Choice has written certifications from the suppliers of all of our seafood cans (except for Dungeness Crab) that the cans are BPA-free … and we remain committed to trying to use only BPA-free cans.

    And as you say on this very page, another U.S. brand that claims their tuna cans are BPA-free (Wild Planet) admits that, as happened with our tuna, their tuna showed traces of BPA when tested.

    This suggests that any other companies who believe they are using BPA-free cans (e.g., Wild Planet, Trader Joe’s, Oregon’s Choice Seafood) are just as likely to show traces of BPA in their tuna (and other canned fish), possibly due to the ubiquity of BPA in the environment.

    In fact, you posted these two entries above:
    “Mark’s Daily Apple reader Chris emailed Wild Planet to double check my personal experience as noted above and this is what they had to say:
    Hello Chris,
    Our tuna products were marked BPA-free based on the manufacturer’s certification that the can linings were formulated without BPA. Upon independent testing of these cans we found that while the level is very low there is some content of BPA in the product.”

    And as you say about another brand:

    “Oregon’s Choice Seafood
    A small outfit out of (you guessed it) Oregon, Oregon’s Choice uses only BPA-free cans to store the tuna they obtain from trusted fishermen. Pretty pricey, but it seems to be of the utmost quality. Sadly, they don’t claim that any of their other products are BPA-free, which almost certainly means they are not.”

    Please be fair and even handed!

  62. As of June 2012, all domestic sardine production will be converted to BPA free cans…not by legal issues, simply by consumer demand.

  63. Also of note, all domestic produced tuna products (BB, COSI and SK) have been in BPA “free” cans for the last 2 years. Only imported products still contain epoxy lined cans. They simply don’t announce it as the inventory mix would make branding very difficult.

  64. Re: pumpkin, I’ve used Farmer’s Market Organic Pumpkin and it’s great!
    Thanks for the very useful list of BPA free products.

  65. I just confirmed with Amy’s Organics consumer relations department that as of March 2012, their canned soups will be BPA free. They have been transitioning to BPA free for the last year, with the lentil soups and tomato products, the BPA free cans will have an NB on the bottom of the can with the date etc. Good news, since Costco sells a great pack of lentil and minestrone soups.

  66. Eden Foods has a few BPA free canned goods – I usually buy the canned chickpeas or other beans. They are available in Whole Foods and local co-ops.

  67. Can you do a post about BPA-free canning lid options for us home canners out there! This would be so wonderful, THANK YOU

  68. Tomatoes in glass are always the best way to go – http://shoporganic.com has Bionaturae as well as Eden tomato products in (amber) glass. You can also find most of the other items in this list there, coconut milk, pumpkin, tuna and more.

  69. Eden Organics has a wide line of products and I know their tomato products are not lined with BPA. You can order them in bulk from Amazon and get a good discount if you do the Subscribe and Save option. I am pretty sure all of their products including beans etc. are BPA free- they tout it on the products that I have bought. That being said, I have committed to using only what I have to that is canned- I have very few canned products in my pantry now. I do all of my own pumpkin, as much tomato canning as I can in the summer, and I cook and freeze all of my beans myself. I also opt for glass jarred foods when I have to buy them. Those items are pricey so I stock up when on sale.
    THANK YOU FOR THE LIST- I GREATLY APPRECIATE THE INFORMATION!

  70. I buy frozen coconut milk from an asian grocery store. It is, of course, packaged in plastic, but it is a #2 plastic. It is the sealing type plastics that scare me more. Mercury-free dental fillings, for instance, have BPA in them. What a great choice we have there! I also like that the milk has only one ingredient, coconut milk. No stabilizers, emulsifiers, etc. I just break the solid block into chunks for portions. I don’t much like the tetrapak-type products, since they are not recyclable in my area.

  71. For all you “canners” out there, the best option out there for lids on traditional Ball, Kerr, GH and Bernardin mason jars are the Italian lids made by Bormioli Rocco called Quattro Staggoni. You can order them on Amazon or directly from Golda’s Kitchen. The lids are lined with a glass ceramic so no BPA and acid proof. Golden Harvest lids are not bad as they are unlined, but not good for acids. Tattler lids are Bpa free but still plastic so who knows.

  72. This is the very reason why I am not a fan of canned food! As much as possible I cook food at the house… well since I have my own business I have plenty of time.

  73. All canned salmon products by the seafood PROCESSOR Trident are bpa free. Trident provides the canned salmon for Trader Joes, Costco (the kirkland brand), Royal Red and Royal Pink Salmon and a few others and all are basically the same product with different labels, prices and amounts of skin and bones (Kirkland Salmon is skinless and boneless, Royal Salmon is not). Also some VERY expensive glass canned seafood producers are Tonnino, Chinook and Company, Captian Jack’s Gourmet Alaskan Seafood and Ortiz.

  74. it is so easy to avoid bpa. just do not eat or drink products using them.. also use the canning lids that are bpa free. making your own coconut milk is quite easy. i personally have never had coconut milk from a container from a store. i moved to key west when i was a teenager and we had coconuts in our yard-as do many people there. it only took me asking a neighbor how to make milk and i was off making my own. while i live in carmel-by-the-sea now, and have to have coconuts sent from home(key west) , i still prefer real fresh coconut milk and oil and meat to anything purchased at a store.

  75. NATIVE FOREST COCONUT MILK IS NOT BPA FREE. i JUST CALLED AND SPOKE TO A REP. She says they are low levels bpa and the FDA cannot allow them to label them as such. I called because there was no information on the can or website making claims of being bpa free. I trust it’s still better than other brands, seeing as I don’t trust the FDA. They still allow saccharin on the shelves for @%#^&%$sake

  76. I think I’m just going to line any of my food containers with unbleached organic parchment paper. That way no food ever touches any kind of plasricl

  77. If something is listed as BPA-free, do NOT jump on that bandwagon, PLEASE!

    If it’s a can or a tetrapack, it’s just going to be lined with another plastic of some sort, like, BP, which is even more volatile and dangerous than BPA. Glass is the best we can do, imho.

  78. Hi, Mark. It’s great to know that more and more companies are moving to BPA-free cans. When I wrote about the subject a few years ago http://hoechstetterinteriors.wordpress.com/2009/11/13/bpa-in-canned-foods-and-kitchen-design/, only Eden Foods had made that move – and *all* of their canned products come in BPA-free cans.

    Unfortunately, testing that was done at the time showed that even in BPA-free cans, there were still still traces of BPA found in the food, indicating that it is almost undoubtedly in our actual food supply. Which, of course, is all the more reason to avoid the additional exposure in the cans themselves.

  79. What about BPS? I don’t care for the BPA-free label for years now. What assures me it doesn’t have any other toxic chemicals? The industry very often replace one chemical by another chemical…

    I recently learned that veggies are cooked in the cans too. And I thought it was only exposed to BPA in the storing time. Now they heat the BPA too, wow…

  80. YAY! I contacted Trader Joe’s headquarters about the status of BPA in their canned food and here is what they had to say. Hopefully this puts to bed some fears about canned food and jarred food (at least from Trader Joe’s):

    “Thank you for contacting us. Here is the deal with BPA. First, regarding Tetra, all Tetra Pak is BPA-free.

    Second, every glass jar item has a metal lid. All metal lids do have a layer of BPA coating. However, there is another coating put on after that. There is no direct contact of BPA to food. We have multiple supplier testing results showing there is no BPA detected from metal lids.

    All our canned fish (and our canned chicken and beef too) are now in BPA-free cans EXCEPT: Sardines, Crab, Cherrystone Clams & Oysters.

    All our canned fruits, beans and vegetables (including tomatoes, and the Organic Canned Pumpkin) are in BPA-free cans EXCEPT: Mandarins, Hatch Chilies, and Artichokes.

    All of our canned Soups and Stews (and including Joe’s Os) are in cans that DO have BPA, except our organic black bean soup, organic lentil soup, organic split pea soup and our organic vegetarian chili . Some of our suppliers are expecting they will be able to make transition next year.

    Lastly, Coconut Milk and Coconut Cream is in a BPA-free can.”

  81. Thank you for this list. I’ve been looking for BPA free cans of coconut milk for my young son and thanks to you I was able to order a bunch from Amazon!

  82. The package states that the lining is BPA free which is good. What about the material that the food comes in contact wtih? Is the inside of a can made with a plastic ? If so, there is a valid concern that the plastic can leach and does leach estrogen like compounds. To make it worth, if there is an oil in a container like the natural oil from oily fish, the plastics leach even more chemicals.