BADGE, made from BPA, reacts with food.

BADGE, made from BPA, reacts with food.

Jul 19, 2010

Coulier, L, EL Bradley, RC Bas, KCM Verhoeck, M Driffield, N Harmer and L Castle  2010.  Analysis of reaction products of food contaminants and ingredients: Bisphenol A diglycidyl ether (BADGE) in canned foods. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 58:4873-4882.

Synopsis by Evan Beach

Leftover residues of a compound made from bisphenol A (BPA) for use in food can linings reacts with sugars, proteins and other parts of food to form new molecules, researchers report.


A main component of food can linings forms new chemicals when it reacts with different parts of food, according to research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

BADGE – which is short for bisphenol A diglycidyl ether – is manfactured from bisphenol A and is a building block of certain types of resins that coat food and drink cans. Like its parent compound, BADGE has endocrine disrupting properties.

The researchers from The Netherlands and Great Britain found that BADGE residue left over from manufacturing of the can coating can react with sugars, proteins and other small molecules – for example ethanol in beer.

The findings show how critical it is to understand the extent of chemical migration from resin linings into the can’s contents and what happens to the compounds once they interact with the food and beverage.

This is important because of the implications for food safety. The European Union bases its regulations for how much BADGE can migrate from food primarily on the reaction between BADGE and water.

However, the study’s authors found that the BADGE-water reaction only accounted for as much as 26 percent of the “disappearing” BADGE  they added to samples of canned tuna, apple puree and beer. Some of the remaining BADGE could be detected as BADGE-glucose and BADGE-amino acid reaction products. Even when the additional BADGE products were considered, it was still not possible to account for all of the BADGE added to the food.

The researchers suspect that BADGE can form products with larger, high-molecular-weight carbohydrates, fibers and proteins that would be difficult to detect directly with the methods they used. This was the case for proteins. When the authors mixed BADGE with insulin, a large protein, the BADGE was effectively invisible. But when they broke down the protein into its component parts, then the BADGE products could be detected.

Although large molecules like the insulin-BADGE product would probably be too large to be absorbed by the body at first, it is possible that after they break down into smaller molecules in the stomach, then exposure to BADGE would be likely.

The BPA-like chemical backbone of BADGE was not changed by reactions with food molecules. The authors did not discuss whether the structural similarity of these products to BADGE and BPA might lead to similar harmful effects attributed to BPA or if the BADGE products might be related to levels of BPA that have been detected in most of the U.S. population.

For the study, BADGE was added to two types of canned food – tuna in sunflower oil and apple puree – and three drinks – an ale, a stout, and a lager. Spiked and nonspiked controls were recanned, homogenized and then analyzed three weeks later using liquid chromotagraphy.