I'm too lazy a cook not to love cans. Quick, cheap, and recyclable, they've gotten me through many a long, tomatoless winter. Besides, I inherited a kind of a feminist reverence for them—didn't packaged foods help women cast off their domestic chains and all that? But recent research suggests that modern feminists, especially those inclined toward motherhood, might want to think twice before stocking up on Progresso soup.
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Peek inside any can and you'll notice a thin film separating your food from the metal. During the 1950s, manufacturers began lining cans with plastic to fend off bacteria that could get into food and drinks if the container corroded. The biggest concern was food-borne botulism, an illness that used to kill six in ten of its victims. Thanks to liners and rigorous sterilization, botulism in commercial canned goods is now pretty rare. Trouble is, most can liners contain bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that can leach into the food. Last year, the nonprofit Consumers Union found it in 18 of 19 canned foods it tested: Progresso Vegetable Soup topped the list with 22 micrograms of BPA per serving—116 times Consumers Union's recommended daily limit, which is based on animal studies.
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