Beer Can Danger
Submitted by Daniel A. Stillard
Beer and soda cans have gone through three major stages in the U.S. The first earliest
beer cans, which debuted in 1935, sported a flat top that required a tool called a church
key to open. This design had an obvious drawback: You needed to have the key—or
some creativity—to open your can. Some breweries experimented with cone-top cans
that could be opened with a standard bottle opener rather than a church key, but again,
you had to have a tool on hand to get inside your can. The cone-top cans began to fall
out of favor in the 1950s and were largely out of use by 1960. At this time, beer was still
overwhelmingly consumed on draft or in bottles; only a quarter of beer in the U.S. was
consumed in cans in 1953, according to Beer Can Collecting: America’s Fastest Growing
By 1963, a Dayton, Ohio man named Ernie Fraze thought he had a better idea. He
invented and patented the pull-tab beer can, the type you found. The can had a built-in
tab that eliminated the need for a tool, a big improvement in terms of convenience. But
the tabs and rings had their drawbacks, too. The main one was that you could cut your
finger badly on them. The tab, which was then replaced by a ring, would sometimes pull
off and leave you with this sharp jagged piece of metal sticking up.
Discarding the metal rings polluted forests and beaches—Jimmy Buffett bemoans this in
his song Margaritaville (“I blew out my flip flop/Stepped on a pop top/Cut my heel had to
cruise on back home”)—and posed a choking hazard.
Again, the industry innovated. In 1975, the Reynolds Metals Co. patented the StaTab,
the can opening we still see on beer and soda cans today. Instead of ripping off, the tab
stayed afixed to the can, saving litter and eliminating choking hazards. They caught on
quickly, and by 1980, most breweries had completely switched from pop-top cans to
The next big concern over cans was that the lining contained the controversial chemical
bisphenol-A (BPA), Despite reassurances about the safety of BPA from the Food and
Drug Administration, some research shows that even trace amounts of BPA might have a
serious effect on the developing brain, heart, lung, prostate, mammary gland, sperm and
eggs. This spurred a widespread rejection of BPA in many consumer products, which is
why it's now common to see 'BPA-free' labels on certain but not all beer cans.
The problem is with the epoxy resin lining the cans. It is there so the can's content don't
taste like aluminum. The eopxy resin however is 80 percent BPA. One hundred billion
cans made in the USA every year, and until recently almost all of them lined with BPA.
The BPA leaches from the inside of beer and pop cans; the beer companies even
acknowledge it, The fact is that he more acidic the beverage, the greater the chance it
will degrade the lining and that could cause BPA to leach out. With an average pH
around 4, beer is generally fairly acidic.
So the main reason why beer companies use BPA in their cans is to protect the taste of
the beer but is the health danger worth it? The obvious question for those who neither
want to drink beer with a metallic taste or beer that contains BPA, is what alternatives are
available? Unfortunately, tthe answer is not really
The alternatives to BPA include Bisphenol S (BPS) and Bisphenol F (BPF). When they
first came out, they were considered safer because they’re stable against temperature
and sunlight. However, new research reveals that BPS and BPF can invoke estrogenic
activity to the levels of BPA or greater
To understand the long-term effects of BPA, studies would have to follow people over
their lifetime. Researchers can make educated guesses based on animal models and the
results from short term studies. So for now, we have to be content knowing that BPA
exposure is probably something we should minimize.
Drinking canned beer likely won’t have a major effect on your health unless you’re
drinking a ton of it. There’s no definitive research showing that the amount of BPA leaked
into beer is enough to have a significant effect on your health.
beernexus.com - SPECIAL REPORT
BPA in Beer Cans - Health Risk?
|Note - we do not verify authorship of submissions.