After my recent blog post about BPA-free cans, and which brands are actually safe (hint: only one brand is!), a lot of you asked about boxed beans, wondering if these are a better bet. We set out to research the materials in these packaging used for boxed beans, and to find out if it’s Good Stuff, or at least Better Stuff for those of us looking to avoid canned products (but who has the time to soak and cook dry beans!).
Aseptic Packaging: Good Stuff?
All of the brands that we researched (Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Pacific Foods, and Imagine) use aseptic packaging, commonly a brand called Tetra Pak, for their boxed items–including beans, soups, and chicken stock, and more.
Aseptic cartons are shelf-stable and protect the taste of the food inside while being much lighter than cans. These cartons are made with three basic materials:
- Paper, to provide strength and stiffness.
- Polyethylene, a type of plastic that makes packages liquid-tight and protects against microorganisms.
- Aluminum foil, to keep out air and light.
In Tetra Paks, these materials are alternated to produce a six-layered package, and the only material that touches the food inside the box is the polyethelene. You know I’m not a fan of plastic of any kind, but polyethelene is a “good” plastic–it appears to be non-leaching and nontoxic, and thus is a definite improvement over the BPA and other resins used in canned beans (the exception being canned beans by Eden Organics, as I explained in my other post).
Glass should still be the first choice if you are purchasing packaged products, but boxed beans and soups are a great alternative to their toxic canned counterparts.