What are canned foods? What are they constituted of? Are they safe for you or your children? If you do not know the answer to any of these questions, it’s time you read up on what goes into your meals.
Canned foods are the result of a technique called ‘canning’. It involves the addition of preservatives and an airtight seal to give the food a longer shelf life, which can range from one to five years or longer.
In our fast paced lives, we all look for ways to reduce the amount of time we spend doing a particular task. Purchasing canned food would be one of those time saving techniques. But what we do not realise, is the harm that it causes our body. And though ‘Ignorance is bliss’, it’s better to know what you are feeding your body because ‘Your body is your temple’.
As children, we all loved having exotic fruits with dessert that weren’t in season at the time. The litchis or cherries that came out of cans helped to do so. We all had the classic baked beans and eggs for a continental breakfast, but never really thought of where those baked beans came from or how fresh is the food you’re eating?
In the following article, we attempt to help you understand exactly why you should be avoiding canned food.
10. Cans are lined with Bisphenol (BPA)
BPA is an industrial chemical found in hard plastics and coatings of food and drink cans. BPA is also used to make polycarbonate plastics, which are used in containers to store food i.e, cans. Most aluminium cans are lined with BPA. This chemical can imitate the hormones in our body which can be harmful to our health. The possible effects of BPA on a human body include – Reproductive disorders, male impotence, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, etc. If you’re convinced now that BPA is indeed hazardous to your body, the means to avoid BPA exposure would be to purchase canned foods that are labelled as ‘BPA free’.
Apart from the effects that BPA has on the human body, it also destroys reproduction and development of the animal and plant species. Especially when a large amount of the waste is dumped into oceans or lakes, the aquatic life is effected considerably.
9. Presence of harmful chemicals – ‘The yoga mat chemical’ (ADA)
The next time you’re reading the price of something you wish to purchase, make sure to glance over the list of ingredients present in the product as well. Chances are, the bleaching agent – Azodicarbonamide (ADA), is present. It is used in packaged and processed foods like canned raisin brown bread.
Famously known as ‘the yoga mat chemical’ which is indeed used in the production of yoga mats, in 2014, Subway announced that they would be no longer using ADA in their bread. Sigh of relief for all the conscious foodies out there! In all our minds, Subway is just the go to healthy eating joint, so if they stopped using ADA, that must really mean that this chemical can cause a lot of harm to our bodies. This toxic chemical has been known to increase the risk of cancer and asthma.
8. Preservatives – Sodium nitrate and Sulfites
All canned food has increased shelf life due to the miracle that is preservatives. It might be a miracle ingredient for the manufacturers, but it is causes great harm to our bodies. Canned and processed foods such as meat products have an exceptionally high level of preservatives in them. And yes, that includes the widely loved sausage.
Checking the ingredients for Sodium is necessary for especially those people who are on a low-salt diet due to health reasons. If canned food is all you have, then rinsing the food (mostly vegetables) in water before cooking it will reduce some of the salt content.
The list of ingredient might not contain Sulphites specifically, but the chemicals ingredients that contain sulphites are – sodium sulphite, sulphur dioxide, potassium bisulfites.
7. Reduced nutritive value of food
The nutritional value of food refers to the vitamins, quality energy (calories) and minerals present in the food. The method of food storage thus used effects the nutritional value of the food. Like the canning process which involves heat, pressure and food additives. The heating process reduces the nutritional value of food and vegetables. The lack of oxygen after having been packed in a air tight container results in a decrease of vitamin content. Subsequently, when the can is opened and the contents are heated, there is a further loss of vitamins.
6. Artificial/Natural flavours
All of us tend to be fooled by the word ‘natural’ and its used in consumer products. Feeling in the mood for some healthy food? Natural products is what you look for. But after some close study of food chemistry and engineering, it is clear that natural and artificial flavours aren’t as different as we think. Natural flavours too can actually contain synthetic chemicals. So it’s definitely safer, to avoid both natural and artificial flavours by minimizing the consumption of processed foods i.e, canned foods.
5. Lower quality assurance
With our regular visits to vegetable vendors, we’re all so used to seeing what we purchase in its entirety and not depend on the manufacturer to provide quality. If you’re looking to purchase bananas, you would take the ones that are ripe for immediate consumption or the ones that are slightly unripe for later consumption. But how do you decide this with canned foods? The contents of which are not visible. We’re leaving the quality of the contents at the mercy of the manufactures, who has a large scale production to meet. And anything produced in large quantities, is bound to have certain damaged products that do not meet quality standards.
4. Not as good as fresh produce
Even though we have had advancements in technology and the skills of preservation of food, there will be nothing as good as fresh produce. There have always been replacements for dairy, vegetables, meat and other products, but with just a little extra effort we can have fresh goods rather than canned goods. Farm fresh vegetables and freshly picked fruits always sound more pleasant and in turn do have a pleasant effect on your body.
3. Oxidise when refrigerated
One of most common dangers to canned goods is the act of refrigerating them. To prevent food from going bad, the first step we all take is to place it in the fridge, but this can have an opposite effect than the one desired incase of canned goods. The material used in most cans is reactive and becomes oxidised due to oxygen content in the refrigerator. This in turn effects the food, since the materials used to make the can mix with the contents of the can. Hence, it is safer to store the food in a different container preferably glass, for storage purposes.
2. Acidic foods react with the tin
The contents of a canned good and the nature of them is important since some food substances react with the tin material. Acidic foods like tomatoes, fruit juices, etc, react with the tin and iron used to make the cans.
This results in an unpleasant metal taste in the food and can have health effects too. Tin poisoning occur by a widespread consumption of canned food. It results in vomiting, nausea and diarrhoea after having consumed canned food containing 200 mg/kg of tin.
1. Use of inferior quality ingredients
Most manufacturers produce their canned goods by taking the surplus leftover and packing it in the form of cans. This leftover is obtained from farmers markets as in case of vegetables. All goods that have not been sold or have gone slightly bad, are then canned. This acts as an advantage to the manufacturer, as the consumer will never know if the contents were originally meant for canning or ended up being canned because they were leftover.
Just to be safe, if you do choose to purchase cans in the future, make sure that they are not:
- Foul odors