So this felt like it should have been simple post for a simple question and in many ways it is but I think it may need a little explaining, thus the slightly long blog post. Please bear with this – the simple answer to the simple question is at the end of the post (for those who want a quick yes or no) but you may wish to read the bits in the middle. 🙂
Aluminium cans are more than likely have a epoxy resin liner (epoxy is understood to be a form of plastic – the thermoset type). Steel cans are maybe slightly less likely to have an epoxy liner (from my limited reading) but there is still a really good chance they will.
Epoxy is also understood by many to be problematic because it is often made with Bisphenol A, (often seen in articles as BPA) a chemical which is understood to mimic human estrogen and which has been linked by some to early puberty in women and various cancers, including breast cancer. There are loads of articles on BPA and plastic if you wish to read more on BPA and there are links at the bottom of this blog. My top tips from reading around it is avoid heating plastic (e.g. microwaving it) as this breaks the plastic down faster and if you want to go the whole hog avoid using plastic water bottles, toothbrushes (which go in warm mouths) and tin cans.
Equally my aim is not to scare monger – there are some articles out there which emphasis its safety such as this one: http://www.bisphenol-a.org/human/epoxycan.html (with a few more listed below). However, you will equally find articles which are open to admitting that more research is being done and still needs to be done. Some of these articles are listed below at bottom of this post. Although there is still no complete correlation research, with most research still being done on animals (rather than humans) which limits the ability to make this link successfully, it is interesting how many articles there are now on the internet on this as an issue with some charities such as the Breast Cancer U.K. campaigning for BPA to be not used in food and drink packaging.
I personally enjoyed this article the most and gives a bit of a pros and cons view: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/8906934/Cans-contain-gender-bending-chemical.html
I guess my logic is if you are worried and are able to avoid it/ limit it then go for it! Eden Organic is one company currently offering some BPA free cans, as seen in this article: http://www.treehugger.com/green-food/7-companies-you-can-trust-to-use-bpa-free-cans.ht. However, be careful as they may have other chemicals in. This article has looked into this and seems to end up basically recommending avoiding tins : http://healyeatsreal.com/why-you-should-never-use-canned-tomatoes/ (Hannah, 2014)
Please bear in mind that BPA is used to limit other health risks – it is understood to protect food and drink from contamination with dissolved metals and spoilage due to bacterial contamination. So it isn’t all bad!
I figured I am sharing all this extra thoughts which deviates slightly from our is it plastic question as I think it good to know what lines our tins which are often staples in our diets and cooking habits. We used tins most days in our house in pre-plastic days.
Going back to plastic…
Whatever your thoughts on BPA are we are still choosing not to use tins currently because we can’t use them as they too often have a plastic epoxy liner and it isn’t always coloured. Sometimes you can spot it but other times you can’t – sometimes it is clear.
So, for now, we are still being tin free….but boy do we miss tinned baked beans.
For further reading (sorry they aren’t sited correctly, but hopefully you can have a click and do further reading if you so wish):
http://www.bisphenol-a.org/human/epoxycan.html – Same article (as in blog) that looks at the research of migrating BPA in tins.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/8906934/Cans-contain-gender-bending-chemical.html – Interesting studies (as cited in main blog) done by Harvard on BPA
http://plasticisrubbish.com/2010/10/08/why-does-my-tin-can-have-a-plastic-liner-and-it-it-bad-for-me/ – Really good blog that share the concerns of plastic lined tins.
http://www.webmd.com/children/environmental-exposure-head2toe/bpa – research into BPA and children (worth a read if you have kids)
http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/840559 – Research which seems to suggest a link between BPA and cancer.
http://www.breastcanceruk.org.uk/our-campaigns/no-more-bpa/ – Breast Cancer Campaign to limit BPA in Food and drink packaging
http://www.treehugger.com/corporate-responsibility/bpa-danger-may-be-greater-from-tin-cans-than-water-bottles.html – Based on USA though so bear in mind food regulation is different.
http://www.suma.coop/2010/04/bisphenol-a/ – Really balanced and informed outlook on BPA. Suma are following this as an issue very closely.
http://www.rense.com/general8/endo.htm – Heinz Beans and BPA lining (steel and only BPA on the lids)
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/news/revealed-the-nasty-secret-in-your-kitchen-cupboard-1932742.htmlv Links to BPA and various big brand products which have it.