Julia's Child, published by Plume/Penguin, is a book about organic food, and growing food, and feeding food to small wiggly people who don't always appreciate it.  This blog celebrates those same things, but also green living. And coffee.  And sometimes wine with little bubbles in it.


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Entries in bpa tomatoes (2)


Dear Muir Glen, I Need More From This Relationship

Dear Muir Glen,

If you want us to be together, I’m going to need more out of this relationship. Hear me out, would you?

We broke up because you and I had different needs. I needed to be able to make pot after pot of chili without feeling like I was serving up BPA stew all the time. You needed to keep your price point reasonable, given that there weren’t any obvious substitutions you felt you could make to your can liners.

We had, in short, irreconcilable differences.

Then, we had a post break-up chat. I sent you this little breezy message:

11/10/09: I love your products, but I have a question. I see on the label that the can has a "white enamel coating." Have you tested for BPA? Thank you, S.P. 

You replied:

Dear Ms. Pinneo:

Thank you for contacting Muir Glen regarding bisphenol-A in food packaging.  Bisphenol-A is a critical component of protective coatings used with metal food packaging and provides important quality and safety features to canned foods.

Scientific and government bodies worldwide have examined the scientific evidence and consistently have reached the conclusion that BPA is not a risk to human health.  Recent examples include comprehensive risk assessments in Japan and Europe and a review by an independent panel of experts organized by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. The can coatings used in Muir Glen packaging comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requirements for use in food contact applications.  These coatings have long played an essential part in food preservation, helping to maintain wholesomeness, nutritional value, and product quality.

We work closely with our suppliers to ensure that all of the food ingredients and packaging materials we use are fully in compliance with U.S. Food and Drug Administration requirements and meet our high quality standards.

We will continue to monitor this situation.  If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us.  Your questions and comments are always welcome.  For more information on the safety of metal food containers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration press office may be contacted at (301) 436-2335.


Craig Grey

Consumer Services


To be honest, I didn’t like your reply very much. I felt the need to restate my objections. I wrote:

Dear Mr. Grey,

I have thus far enjoyed Muir Glen products, but I feel your approach is wrong-headed here.  It is no coincidence that the email address from which your reply comes is "Corporate.Response@..."  Your answer is very much a corporate response.  I am quite sure that the Muir Glen line complies with FDA regulations.  But the public tide against BPA is turning very much against this product.  In fact, it is likely to be outlawed a ways down the road.  Why not get ahead of the curve?  You make an otherwise wholesome product.  People are tired of learning that companies they've trusted use BPA in their packaging.  Every mother at our school is horribly annoyed at SIGG for the water bottle revelation.  

Get ahead of the game here.  Get rid of the BPA.



And you wrote… nothing. And so that was it between us. And even though many of my friends really love you, and it was awkward at parties, we’ve been apart for quite a while now.

And I’ve been coping on my own. There were a few lonely Friday nights, but I pulled through. I flirted with other tomato products, I batted my eyes at tetra-packs and glass bottles. If you must know, I have a big crush on glass bottles these days. In my darker moments I wonder why you can’t just put your tomatoes in glass bottles, so that we could be together again.

Even the FDA has recommended limiting BPA for children, even if they're too wimpy to outlaw it entirely. And then there was that bombshell study published in Pediatrics, which (although it was a small study with a couple of flaws) has implications even more dramatic than I ever would have imagined.

So you were the last one I expected to pop up on twitter a few months ago, with a note just for me:


To which I said:


And then you said… nothing.  For months.

Listen, I’m flattered by this semi-recent gesture—really I am. And I do love progress. But I hope you know it’s going to take a little extra love to heal the rift between us.  If the problem is on its way to being solved, I’m going to have more than a few questions about how. If your new cans are BPA free, great. But I’m going to need to know what else might be in there. Is it something more stable? Less chemically interesting? Would I be able to spell it on the first try?

Parents’ trust of corporations has changed in the last decade. Remember when fast food restaurants felt free to advertise their “secret sauce?” Those days are over. We can’t take any more secrets, please. We’re more alert now. More knowing. So if you have an improvement to make, let it be good and thorough.

I’ve had my heart broken once already. I’m not going to go through that again. 

Tentatively yours,



Tomatoes Please. Hold the BPA.

It's officially chili season, people. And another year has gone by wherein there are no better BPA-free canned tomato products on the market. I've been ramping up my gardening, but I'm nowhere near canning all of our own tomatoes yet.

So what's a chili-loving girl to do?

There are some companies, notably Eden Organics, who can beans and other vegetables in BPA free cans. When I'm not using dried beans, I always turn to Eden.

But the acidity of tomatoes means that even Eden can't make a BPA free canned tomato product. Scanning high and low, I've come up with a scant three BPA free products. First there's Pomi, in a tetra-pak. The container is not recyclable or compostable, but it is BPA free. In glass jars, I've found BioNaturae and a brand called Cirio. 

BioNaturae is found in many East Coast shops, and their pasta is--hands down--my favorite organic brand. The tomatoes are the priciest choice and only come in a very well pureed texture. Pomi's "chopped" product is a more traditional chili texture. 

The Cirio brand has a texture in between the other two. Problem: these are not sold in my town. It is an Italian import which I found at Fairway in New York City, a store full of quirky European brands that aren't widely available.

Why aren't there more glass containers? A BPA discussion over at Groovy Green Livin' brought up this question, with a less than satisfying answer from a representative of Annie's products--that glass is heavy and difficult to transport.

True. But it's also oh so recyclable. I argue that it's more efficient to can tomatoes in 24 ounce jars than it ever will be to put baby food in 3 ounce jars. And I don't hear any companies suggesting that baby food should soon appear in BPA lined cans.

Dear Muir Glen (owned by giant General Mills) I'm talking to you! Your pasta sauces reach my store in glass jars. Please, please consider putting those tomato products in glass, too. 

Enough, already.