Re: “A Love Letter to Canned Foods”

Last week, The New York Times published an article in their Food section highlighting meal ideas based on canned food. In response, Dr. Leonardo Trasande (NYU) and I wrote a letter to the editor with some of our concerns. This letter did not get published, so I’m posting here instead.

As avid cooks, we love reading columns from Melissa Clark. But as environmental health researchers, we were concerned that her recent piece, “A Love Letter to Canned Food,” fails to discuss potential health concerns associated with metal cans. Their linings contain bisphenols, such as bisphenol-A (BPA), or the wide array of “regrettable substitutes,” which can interfere with our body’s hormones and disrupt our developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune systems. All of this is described in our American Academy of Pediatrics technical report and policy statement on “Food Additives and Child Health.” For canned food to continue to be a convenient, affordable and nutritional option for feeding our families, we need systemic policy changes that ensure that any additives are fully tested for safety prior to use in the marketplace. Our own work suggests that replacing BPA in cans with safer alternatives may produce economic benefits to society greater than the costs.  

Rachel M. Shaffer, MPH
PhD Candidate, Environmental Toxicology
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences
University of Washington School of Public Health

Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP
Jim G. Hendrick, MD Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Pediatrics
Chief, Division of Environmental Pediatrics
Professor of Environmental Medicine & Population Health
NYU School of Medicine

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