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A concerning new study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry analyzed the concentrations of hormone-disrupting chemicals known as bisphenols in foodstuff from the United States and their implications for human exposure, revealing widespread contamination of the food supply.[i]
While most educated consumers are now diligently limiting their exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) containing products, many are still unaware that an entire class of endocrine-disrupting bisphenol chemicals exist, with at least eight of sixteen in existence commonly used in production. These lesser known bisphenol analogues are being substituted for BPA by manufacturers of consumer goods, even within so-called "BPA free" products, in an attempt to both evade public relations fallout and increasingly stringent regulatory controls.
The authors of the new study reiterate this concerning chicanery:
As the concern over the safety of bisphenol A (BPA) continues to grow, this compound is gradually being replaced, in industrial applications, with compounds such as bisphenol F (BPF) and bisphenol S (BPS).
The researchers set out to determine the occurrence of bisphenols, other than BPA, in foodstuffs, due to the fact that information on the topic is scarce. Their methodology was as follows:
[S]everal bisphenol analogues, including BPA, BPF, and BPS, were analyzed in foodstuffs (N = 267) collected from Albany, New York, USA, using high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS). Foodstuffs were divided into nine categories of beverages, dairy products, fat and oils, fish and seafood, cereals, meat and meat products, fruits, vegetables, and "others."
The study revealed bisphenol contamination of the US food supply is endemic:
Bisphenols were found in the majority (75%) of the food samples, and the total concentrations of bisphenols (ΣBPs: sum of eight bisphenols) were in the range of below the limit of quantification to 1130 ng/g fresh weight, with an overall mean value of 4.38 ng/g. The highest overall mean concentration of ΣBPs was found in the "others" category, which included condiments [emphasis added]
Within the category of vegetables, a sample of mustard (dressing) and ginger contained the highest concentrations of 1130 ng/g for bisphenol F (BPF) and 237 ng/g for bisphenol P(BPP). This dovetails with two other disturbing findings from last year: 1) human and synthetic hormones now widely contaminate fresh produce. 2) synthetic hormone activity now eclipses that of natural hormones within exposed populations.
The study also found that canned foods contained higher concentrations of individual and total bisphenols in comparison to foods sold in glass, paper, or plastic containers, likely due to the epoxy-resin can liners, which unless explicitly labeled to be 'bisphenol free' contain bisphenols.
What makes the discovery in our food supply of newer bisphenols such as BPF and BPP most concerning is that there has been little to no toxicological and safety research performed on these relatively novel xenobiotic chemicals. It was only last year that it became apparent that global manufacturers of consumer goods that formerly used BPA were switching to the equally toxic (and environmentally more persistent) bisphenol BPS. [see: Consumer Alert: BPA-Free Goods Still Contain Toxin Bisphenol.]
BPS is increasingly being used to displace BPA in global paper currency and thermal printer paper, and is now found in human urine samples at levels as high as BPA. The new study discovered that the second most prevalent bisphenol analogue found in foodstuffs was BPF, which accounted for 17% of the total BP concentrations versus 42% for BPA.
The study concluded that on the basis of measured concentrations and daily ingestion rates of foods, the daily dietary intake of bisphenols (calculated from the mean concentration) were estimated to be 243,142,177,63.6, and 58.6 ng/kg bw/day for toddlers, infants, children, teenagers, and adults, respectively.
In order to understand how high these levels are, one must compare the disturbing effects of so-called "low-dose" exposure levels in animals. Two animal studies published in 2005 found that doses as low as 25 ng/kg bw/day resulted in "permanent changes to genital tract," [ii] and "changes in breast tissue that predispose cells to hormones and carcinogens"[iii] Based on the study findings, toddlers are being exposed to almost 10 times that amount (243 ng/kg bw/day) through their food alone. This does not even account for many other sources in their environment, including sippy cups, canned foods and formula, etc.
For additional research, including natural strategies to reduce the toxicity of bisphenols and encouraging their detoxification, read the article: Manufacturers Replace BPA with Still Highly Toxic BPS
- [i] Chunyang Liao, Kurunthachalam Kannan. Concentrations and Profiles of Bisphenol A and Other Bisphenol Analogues in Foodstuffs from the United States and their Implications for Human Exposure. J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Apr 24. Epub 2013 Apr 24. PMID: 23614805
- [ii] Caroline M Markey, Perinaaz R Wadia, Beverly S Rubin, Carlos Sonnenschein, Ana M Soto. Long-term effects of fetal exposure to low doses of the xenoestrogen bisphenol-A in the female mouse genital tract. Biol Reprod. 2005 Jun;72(6):1344-51. Epub 2005 Feb 2. PMID: 15689538
- [iii] Muñoz-de-Toro M. Perinatal exposure to bisphenol-A alters peripubertal mammary gland development in mice. Endocrinology. 2005;146(9):4138–47. doi:10.1210/en.2005-0340. PMID 15919749. PMC 2834307.