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You Ask, I Answer: Canned Tomatoes

canned-tomatos-fbI read somewhere that consumers should stay away from canned tomatoes (in any form), and instead buy them in glass containers because the acid in the tomatoes leaches toxins from the tin.

Is there any validity to this concern?

– Katherine Baldwin
(Location unknown)

When Bisphenol A (BPA) concerns spread like wildfire slightly over a year ago following reports of negative consequences on endocrine, reproductive, and neurological health, one added detail was that when acidic foods are stored in cans that contain BPA, they absorb the chemical.

That is most certainly a true statement.  As with anything else (i.e.: soda consumption), you need to consider context.

For example, I use canned tomatoes no more than once a month, if that.  In that case, I don’t consider the “can versus glass” question of utmost importance.

I know some people who cook with canned tomatoes at least three times a week.  In their case, I strongly recommend opting for glass jars whenever possible.

I also recommend treading with more caution when it comes to foods consumed by toddlers, children, and pregnant women.

FYI: Eden Foods canned tomato products are lined with enamel, rather than plastic, thereby significantly reducing the amount of BPA that leaches into their foods.  This is the company’s official statement:

“Eden Organic Tomatoes are packed in lead free tin covered steel cans coated with a baked on r-enamel lining. Due to the acidity of tomatoes, the lining is epoxy based and may contain a minute amount of bisphenol-A, it is in the ‘non detectable’ range in extraction test. The test was based on a detection level at 5 ppb (parts per billion).”

I suppose one then has to ask — “how safe is it to consume from cans with epoxy-based linings?”

Once again, it comes down to context.

Canned foods shouldn’t make up the bulk of the diet anyway, since most of these foods contain considerable amounts of sodium.

PS: In some states, environmental committees have drafted bills to phase out — and eventually ban — the production (or at the very least, the sale) of cans that contain BPA.  I certainly support them!



  1. David Griffin said on February 9th, 2010


    Are you or any readers aware of any high quality tomatoes that are packed in glass jars with no added sodium (organic and San Marzano would be optimal, but that combination probably doesn’t even exist). Thanks.

  2. Christy said on February 10th, 2010

    Interesting, I’d neer even considered leaching from the lining, other than being grateful that there wasn’t lead anymore.

  3. Sarah @ Semi-Sweet said on February 10th, 2010

    We use diced tomatoes a lot in soups and such, and so I have started to buy Pomi brand, which is packaged in aseptic brick packs – no BPA in those. I also use a ton of low-sodium chicken broth, which I also buy in the same brick packs. Unfortunately, our daughter was a canned-soup addict (she’d eat a can a day if we let her), and b/c of BPA I’ve had to stop that (better anyway b/c of sodium issues). I do think we’ll see a sea change in the next few years – hopefully sooner rather than later!

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