Happy Birthday to Our Canned Food: The Food Can Celebrates Its 200th Birthday

Reading the ingredient list on a canned food label doesn’t tell you everything you need to know.  Read more about the dangerous chemical found in the lining of all cans, and why you should eliminate canned food from your diet!

200 years ago on August 25th, 1810, Englishman Peter Durand was granted a patent for his idea to preserve food in tinplate containers.

Just two years later, in 1812, the can manufacturing industry was born in England. That same year, English immigrant Thomas Kensett started his canning business with glass jars but switched to tin, for which he received a U.S. patent in 1825.

This must have been an exciting development for our ancestors who didn’t have the benefit of refrigeration or a grocer on every block! They spent a lot of time and energy preserving food to get them through periods when fresh food wasn’t available or easily accessible.

What’s more, canned food has served an undeniably crucial and even noble role in U.S. history. Pioneers heading west in the mid 1840s relied on lightweight canned food, as have our soldiers since the Civil War.

In times of hardship or natural disasters, such as hurricanes or earthquakes, having plenty of imperishable canned food on hand is essential.

Unfortunately, today our canned food consumption is driven more by our demand for convenience and speed when putting food on the table than by the need to eat something in order to survive extreme environments.

Believe it or not, today there are more than 600 sizes and styles of cans being manufactured, allowing consumers to choose from over 1500 different canned food items from around the world.

While we at Body Ecology believe it is best to always eat home prepared, fresh, and wholesome foods, we recognize that this isn’t always possible for some of you.

There are certain hazards of eating canned food that you should be aware of, however, and after reading this, we hope you will use the Body Ecology tips we offer to provide you and your family with healthy and quick meals that do not pose a risk to your health.

  • Botulism: Thankfully, botulism poisoning from canned food in the U.S. is very rare, but considering these toxins are some of the most deadly known to man, it’s important to know potential warning signs of botulism contamination: don’t buy or open expired, bulging, rusty, or dented cans, and don’t consume or even touch can contents if there is a foul odor upon opening.
  • BPA Contamination: Bisphenol A (BPA) is an industrial chemical that has been used in many hard plastics and metal and aluminum cans since the 1960s.

    In May 2010, the National Work Group for Safe Markets released a study called “No Silver Lining”, reporting that consumers were exposed to dangerous levels of Bisphenol A (BPA) in canned food. The canned foods in the study included fish, fruits, vegetables, soups, and sodas, and 90% had detectable levels of BPA1,2 .

    To date, a very large number of studies have linked even low doses of BPA exposure in animals to illnesses that are on the rise in the U.S., including breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, heart disease, infertility, obesity, and developmental and reproductive harm3 .

    Yet, despite longstanding concerns over BPA, the FDA has only as recently as this year reported that it will be working with the food industry in the evaluation and manufacturing of alternatives to limit our exposure to BPA4,5 .

    BPA is a serious threat that shouldn’t be taken lightly, and for this reason, we have provided you with more info on it in “The Essential Food Safety Guide: What Types of Bottles, Containers, and Packaging Are a Danger to Your Health?”

  • Canned Food = Processed Food: If you are not convinced by the fact that your canned soup may contain BPA, have you read the ingredients on the label of a popular brand of canned chicken noodle soup lately? Not only are canned food items highly processed and lacking in overall nutritional quality, they are full of MSG, sodium, hidden sugars, and ingredients most of us are not even able to pronounce!
We detailed the dangers of processed food and the many diseases that can be linked to their consumption in our must-read article “10 Things the Processed Food Industry Doesn’t Want You To Know and Body Ecology’s 2 Powerful Tools to Help You Fight Back”.

Body Ecology Tips for Quicker, Healthy Meals

It’s good to have some canned food on hand for a rainy day but not as part of a healthy lifestyle and daily meal plan.

Most of us are very busy and have schedules full of commitments, but when your major concern is to put dinner on the table as fast as possible, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Plan ahead– Contrary to what most people think these days, healthy eating doesn’t require a lot of time for preparation. It just takes practice and planning. If you plan to eat healthy, you will make sure that you always have plenty of healthy ingredients in your home. Plan your menus and make a list before you go to the grocery store!
  • Spend some time reorganizing your kitchen and stock it with the right utensils: This can drastically increase your efficiency and reduce your meal preparation times.
  • Consider a slow cooker: It’s virtually effortless and makes delicious meals for the days when you know you will be home late, and everyone is waiting for dinner. 
  • Preserve your own food: Everyone has some time to cook. You can even turn it into quality time with your family by inviting them into the kitchen to help out and discuss the day. Make extra to store in the fridge or freezer for later meals. Just be sure to choose safe storage containers for your leftovers! 

Most importantly, have fun! Once you commit to leading a healthier lifestyle and preparing fresh, wholesome meals, you will be interested in experimenting and finding new, creative, and SAFE recipes that your whole family will enjoy.


    “200th Birthday of the Can Approaches”, Packaging Digest, August 18th, 2010

    “Food Safety and Food Security: What Consumers Need to Know”, September 2003, U.S. Department of Agriculture

  1. Schneider, Andrew, “Report: Hazardous Chemical in Our Canned Food”, AOL News, May 18th, 2010
  2. New Study Finds Large Amounts of Dangerous Chemical BPA in Canned Foods, May 18th, 2010
  3. Bisphenol A: Toxic Plastics Chemical in Canned Food: BPA and human diseases on the rise.
  4. “FDA says Bisphenol A (BPA) Exposure of  ‘Some’ Concern for Infants and Children”. Science Daily, January 20, 2010
  5. Update on Bisphenol A For Use in Food Contact Applications: January 2010
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