Friday, May 13, 2011

The Fight for Tomatoes

Remember a couple of years ago when BPA was discovered in baby bottles and the country went all bat shit crazy?? Well, I am so happy to report that this issue has been resolved, and mothers can sleep soundly. No, I lie you can't. BPA is not just found in plastic, it is used throughout the canning industry, and most dangerously in canned tomatoes. BPA is lined in the aluminum, and the acidity of tomatoes causes a reaction, or better yet contamination. I just came across these sites, where some hardcore bloggers did some serious research.

Body Earth
The Soft Landing

I am beyond disturbed by this for two reasons.

1: BPA has been linked to breast, prostate, and testicular cancers, obesity, elevated rates of heart disease, diabetes, liver abnormalities, reproductive problems and reduced sperm count, and problems with brain function and mood disorders.

2. Since learning of gassed tomatoes, I have gone strictly to organic canned tomatoes for my marinara batches.

Ugh! I can't win. Gone are the days of canning massive amounts of inexpensive organic tomato sauce! On the other hand, picking tomatoes before they are ripe and pumping them with gas, just doesn't sit right with me either. The sun needs to do it's job, that's where the flavor comes from. I know that there are no health concerns (at the moment) for ethylene, it just seems wrong. I get it, ethylene is naturally found in plants...blah blah blah. But is it really necessary? Can't I just buy an unripe tomato and let it ripen on my counter? Or buy a can of organic tomatoes without the threat of cancer?


  1. Pomi is a good BPA-free option (at least I think it is!) for sauces, although I don't like the taste quite as much as regular organic canned tomatoes. I think it's organic? Now that I'm writing this, I can't remember.

    Also, BPA is worst for preggos and breastfeeding mamas. Besides cans, it's generally on receipts. So, when I remember, I say no to receipts or try to wash my hands as soon as possible after touching them (or at least before eating, which is a good idea anyway).

  2. A response from Whole Foods. I love them!

    Hello Gigi,

    At this time BPA based epoxy lining is the industry standard in canned foods with very few exceptions. This is true of most aluminum cans in the US and does include our private label canned tomatoes. In our store brands, our buyers are not currently accepting any new canned items with BPA in the lining material, and we have met with each of our suppliers and their can manufacturers to develop plans for their transition to non-BPA cans. Currently, 27% of the sales of our store brand canned good sales are currently of non-BPA cans, and that number continues to increase. BPA based epoxy liners work effectively to protect the integrity of food. The U.S. can market is dominated by a small number of very large companies. Whole Foods Market represents a very tiny slice of the overall canned good market, so our leverage is limited. Despite the uphill nature of this battle, we are working with a group of like-minded companies and socially responsible investors to continue to push foralternatives. Our hope is that with the recent updated guidance from the FDA, companies will be encouraged to find an alternative material that works just as effectively to protect the integrity of canned foods without the presence of BPA or any other substances of concern.

    To date, we have done more than any other U.S. retailer to inform our customers and take action on the issue and we are committed to continuing to search for the safest and most functional packaging materials for our stores. To learn more please visit:

    For more information, please see the FDA's BPA Report and the Health and Human Services BPA Safety Page.

    If you have any further questions please use our on-line response form.

    Best regards,

    Carijane Grigsby-Etter

    Global Customer Information Specialist | Whole Foods Market | 550 Bowie Street | Austin, Texas 78703