Alarming levels of Bisphenol A found in canned tuna, Swiss test reveals

A recent test conducted by Saldo, a Swiss consumer magazine, has uncovered concerning levels of bisphenol A (BPA) in canned tuna, raising health concerns for consumers. The study analyzed various types of canned and jarred tuna and found BPA in all the samples tested, except for those packed in glass containers.    

BPA is a compound that can negatively affect human health, potentially causing fertility issues and immune system damage. Even at low doses, exposure to BPA can increase the risk of autoimmune and allergic diseases. In response to the risks associated with BPA, in April 2023, EFSA published a re-evaluation of the safety of this substance as used in food contact materials, significantly reducing the tolerable daily intake (TDI) set in its previous assessment made in 2015.    

Despite manufacturers' claims of BPA-free cans, the test results indicate that the contaminant originates from the linings of these packages. Renowned brands were found to have BPA levels 20 times higher than the TDI established by EFSA (12 nanograms per day for a 60kg adult). A specific brand of tuna set a negative record with BPA levels 50 times higher than the proposed limit. However, some options packaged in glass jars were free of BPA.    

In addition to BPA, the test also detected the presence of glycidol in certain canned tuna products preserved in olive oil. Tuna preserved in sunflower oil showed lower levels of glycidol. Glycidol is believed to be a carcinogenic substance that can be produced during the processing of oils, and EFSA has not identified a safe level for its consumption.    On a positive note, the test revealed that levels of mercury and the pollutant fat 3-MCPD in the analyzed tuna were not alarmingly high.    

This is not the first-time concerns about BPA contamination in canned products have been raised. A year ago, German magazine OekoTest conducted a similar analysis on canned tomatoes, which also revealed the presence of BPA. In response, companies claimed to use BPA-free cans for the internal lining and provided certificates to support their claims. However, the absence of BPA in the only two glass-packaged products tested by OekoTest raised doubts about the contamination source.    

These new findings of high levels of BPA in canned tuna further emphasizes the significance of the recently announced ban of BPA in food contact materials in Europe. This ban, set to take effect at the end of 2024, will have a broad-reaching impact as it applies to a wide range of products, including the coating used on metal cans. The timing of this ban appears to be impeccable given the alarming findings regarding BPA contamination in canned goods.