Magazine article Women & Environments International Magazine

Canned Goods

Magazine article Women & Environments International Magazine

Canned Goods

Article excerpt

In the face of growing health concerns related to the foods we eat, consumers are being asked to take responsibility by deciding which products to purchase and which to avoid. An example of this recent form of activism is starting to catch on in relation to canned foods. Canned goods contain an inside lining meant to protect from rusting and corrosion (Cao et al, 2004). This lining, called an epoxy resin, contains the industrial chemical bisphenol A or BPA, an endocrine disruptor that has also been linked to breast cancer (Vogel, 2009). Consumer awareness on the health threat of BPA in canned goods is growing with the aid of recent publications like Buyer Beware, a joint collaboration between six organizations and campaigns aimed at informing buyers about the health threat of canned goods. Pressure from consumers has meant that can brands like Campbell's and Del Monte have promised to transition away from using BPA in their products. But canned goods also pose a health threat to workers within the canning industry who have no protection from constant BPA exposure in the workplace. There is a particular risk to women's health present, as women's hormones, along with timing of exposure and differences in biological factors leave them more vulnerable than their male counterparts (Arbuckle, 2006).

In Canada, there are 8,894 workers in the fruit and vegetable canning, pickling, and drying industry (Industry Canada, n.d), many of them working in southwestern Ontario, while in the United States, 173,000 people are employed in the industry, with women making up 32% of the employees (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016). There are currently no occupational exposure limits for BPA within the workplace, either in Canada or the US; however,tolerable daily intake levels exist, and are meant to protect consumers from ingesting BPA through food. The presence of exposure limits for consumers and not for workers highlights a major gap in protection with respect to the health threat posed by BPA. …

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