New BPA-Free Mason Jar Lids: Are They Really Safer?

I can see from the WordPress statistics on this blog that a lot of people are searching for information about bisphenol-A (BPA) in mason jar lids. Apparently word is getting around that Ball and Kerr lids are now BPA-free. The rumor is true: According to Jarden Home Brands, the manufacturer of both Ball and Kerr products, lids produced since last fall have no BPA. Starting this summer, boxes of the lids will be labeled “BPA-free.” Until then, you can find out whether lids in your cupboard or on the store shelf have BPA or not by checking this article in the blog “Diary of a Tomato.”

As you might expect, Jarden isn’t saying what chemical or chemicals have taken the place of BPA in the new lids. There are some fifteen other bisphenols, each of them labeled with a different letter or two. At least one, bisphenol-S (BPS), has been thought a safe substitute for BPA. A report published in Environmental Health Perspectives in March of this year found otherwise. BPS, the authors concluded, “disrupts membrane-initiated E2-induced cell signaling, leading to altered cell proliferation, cell death, and PRL release.” E2 is the estrogen estradiol. PRL is prolactin. In other words, BPS messes with your hormones.

Other bisphenols may be at least as dangerous. A report published in the same journal in 2011 concluded, “Almost all commercially available plastic products we sampled—independent of the type of resin, product, or retail source—leached chemicals having reliably detectable EA [estrogenic activity], including those advertised as BPA free. In some cases, BPA-free products released chemicals having more EA than did BPA-containing products.”

Until we have further evidence to the contrary, we can assume that plastic-coated jar lids contain dangerous chemicals, and we should limit contact between the lids and the food we put in jars. Though we can’t keep delivery people from turning packages of gift jars upside down, at home we can take care to keep our jars upright, in the pantry and in the refrigerator.

For more information about BPA and ways to avoid it in home canning, see my article “Home Canning, BPA-Free.”

 

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Win Canning Jars, Lids, and The Joy of Jams!

Fillmore jars
Fruits of the season in Fillmore Container jars

Today marks the start of a contest for a set of gifts from Fillmore Container: a dozen  straight-sided, slightly tapered, unembossed half-pint jelly jars; a dozen one-piece caps in the winner’s choice of color; and a copy of The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves, my guide to making all kinds of traditional sweet preserves in traditional ways, without added pectin.

The canning jars are just like half-pint Ball and Kerr jars except that there are no lumpy parts to avoid when affixing a label. Unlike Ball and Kerr jars, these jars come in a box with top flaps, which you can fold down to protect your preserves from dust and light when you store and transport them.

Fillmore jar lidsThe caps come in three colors: gold, silver, and white (black ones aren’t currently available but will be later this year). The raised center of each cap makes the vacuum seal easy to see. The sealing ring is white, as is the rest of the cap’s underside. Called Plastisol, the sealing compound is appropriate for both boiling-water canning and pressure-canning. The lids should be briefly soaked in hot water to soften the Plastisol before they are screwed on to the jars.

Because people who don’t do their own canning are often flummoxed by flat jar lids, one-piece caps are nice to have when you’re planning to sell your preserves or give them to friends or relatives. And I’m especially pleased that I can place a 2 ½-inch round label on top of one of these caps without some of the type ending up covered by a ring.

Only U.S. residents are eligible for this contest. To enter, simply append a comment to this post by June 3. A winner will be chosen at random the next day.

By the way, you can probably tell from the top photo that it’s rhubarb season in my garden. The recipes for Rhubarb-Rose Jam and Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam are from The Joy of Jams, except that for this batch of Rhubarb-Rose I increased the quantity of rose petals (from pink-flowered rugosas) to 4 ounces, with a beautifully colorful result. For another idea about what to do with all that rhubarb, see my recipe for Blueberry-Rhubarb Jam, in my guest blog post on the Fillmore Container site.