Mastering Food Preservation: Ball’s BPA-Free Canning Lids

Mastering Food Preservation: Ball's BPA-Free Canning Lids

We’ve long been concerned about BPA in canning lids, and just received a tip from an alert reader that Ball is now offering BPA-free lids:

They began production/release of their BPA-free lids in January 2013. To identify a BPA-free box (they are not marking it on their boxes, according to the company spokesman), look for a production code printed/stamped on each box that is One Letter Followed by 10-11 Numbers. On Ball boxes, you’ll find the code next to the flag on the bottom of the box. On Kerr boxes, you’ll find the code on the back of the box, above the text. It won’t be a particular code, but only BPA-free boxes will have these (or any) codes like this stamped on them.

I quickly checked my stash of canning lids, and was able to compare an older box (above, left) with one purchased in March 2013 (above, right).

Mastering Food Preservation: Ball's BPA-Free Canning Lids

A glance at the top panel of these two similar-looking boxes (above) shows that only the newer one has a code. After making an inquiry, Ball confirmed the news:

BPA free lids began to roll out last Fall. Those products will have production date codes stamped on the outside of the package. Starting this summer, you will find the “BPA Free” message start to appear on the front face of those packages.

Until these new labeled boxes come out, check for the numbered code next to the flag to ensure that the lids you’re buying are BPA-free.

Mastering Food Preservation: Ball's BPA-Free Canning Lids

Above: Older lids with a whiter lining to the left; new BPA-free lids with a darker lining and more prominent, slightly tweaked “button” to the right. When asked, the spokesperson for Ball was unable to tell me what the new lining is made of, only that the information is “proprietary.” Still, we’re glad to finally have a BPA-free choice.

Update 6.6.13: A response from Jarden Home Brands: “The coating does not contain BPS and is not enamel based.”

Update 7.19.13: See More on Identifying Ball’s BPA-Free Lids for additional tips.

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50 Responses to Mastering Food Preservation: Ball’s BPA-Free Canning Lids

  1. katrina says:

    This is wonderful news – thanks for letting us know!

  2. Thanks for the info because, let’s face it, we’ll take all contributions to making our food supply safer.

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  6. That IS great news…though I do fear that the replacement for the lining that had BPA could prove to be just as bad for us, later on. Chemicals are chemicals. I like the idea of the Tattler lids, and my store will be carrying these soon, and we also sell Weck jars that are amazing for canning and have no chemicals at all, but these are not up on our store web site yet. We have been selling out of them at local markets for people looking to replace their metal lids altogether.

    • leduesorelle says:

      I share your sentiments, and hope we’re not trading away one problem for another.

    • I completely agree. What we need isn’t “BPA Free”, which is actually meaningless…it tells us there is no BPA but what else are they using? BPA is often replaced by BPS or BPF, both of which are estrogen disruptors. What we need is third party verification and certification for “Estrogenic Activity Free”…but I’m not holding my breath!

    • Sattie Clark says:

      I have not been canning for years because I found out canning lids have a BPA liner. Now finally the BPA-free canning lids are on the market but Ball won’t say what they are made of, just that it’s a “proprietary material.” This is just wrong. We are going to be heating this new plastic liner up for prolonged period while it is contact with our food. It is inevitable that some of it will leach into the food. We have a right to know. Join me in posting a comment on Ball Canning’s Facebook page. You can “like” the comment I just posted and/or post your own.

  7. Bri says:

    yay! thank you for sharing!

  8. Sue says:

    I too am wondering why this is not being touted by Jarden, I found out a few weeks ago when I e-mailed them about it. Not placing the no BPA on the pkg is also a puzzler!

    • leduesorelle says:

      Jarden only recently announced the lids in a release about new products, and describe it as an update/upgrade, proactive move. They’re clear in stating that the old lids are still safe since BPA was never banned…

  9. Christina says:

    When I was searching for BPA free items I found out that companies are switching to BPS. A different chemical. They can then claim to be BPA free. http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/manufacturers-replace-bpa-still-highly-toxic-bps

    • leduesorelle says:

      Thanks for the tip, will try to look into it!

      • leduesorelle says:

        Hi Christina — I inquired about BPS and left an update above; Jarden says the new lids do not contain BPS. Hope that helps!

    • Michael Greer says:

      Everyone should read the Mother Jones article by Mariah Blake, about BPA and it’s replacements. It’s quite sobering, and a bit daunting to work out a planned response to deal with this ongoing problem.

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  13. Canner says:

    I just bought a case of Ball jars with lids. The case said “BPA free”, but the lids weren’t marked as such. So, I phoned Ball (800-240-3340) to ask how I could tell these BPA-free lids apart from the old ones. The representative told me that the BPA-free ones all have “Made in USA” printed on the lids, while the old ones don’t. Then I looked in my closet and found lids I had bought in 2012 and 2011, all of which, both silver-toned and gold-toned, had “Made in USA” imprinted on them in the exact same lettering as my newest lids.

    So, which info from Ball is correct? How can I believe any of their lids are BPA-free if their rep tells me, in effect, that all of them have been for 2 years past?

  14. Canner says:

    PS – I will phone Ball again tomorrow to ask about it, but I wish someone with the necessary skills would research which lids really have what in them. And, like Sue, I am wondering why they are not hyping the supposed change to something that customers like me would jump for. (I have been buying their jars but setting aside their lids and using Tattler lids instead — a considerable extra expense.)

    • leduesorelle says:

      I agree, it’s a challenge keeping up on what the lids are made of. Did you find out any further information?

      • Canner says:

        I went to a few stores to compare prices and to look at their jars and separate packages of lids and compare their packaging. They are sold in several stores in my area. I saw a variety of packaging styles.

        Some of the cases of jars had the yellow stripe and red BPA-free label and some had only the stamped code with a letter and 11 digits. Some of the lid-only boxes had an “Elite” label with no indication as to BPA and some had an Am flag on top and were imprinted “Made in USA”. Also, the colors, arrangement of print, and information given on the packages varied by the size and style of the jar, and there are many sizes/styles. I checked only the pint-size jar cases so as not to turn this into a major investigation!

        I opened each kind of package and checked the lids for the darker shade of white and the deeper dimple. The only package that did NOT have these indications of being BPA-free were the lids in the Elite lids-only boxes.

        Jars larger than quart-size are being sold individually with no packaging and their lids have the “Made in USA” imprint on the top and the non-BPA appearance on the underside.

        I also discovered that the lids I bought in 2012, which are BPA-free in cases with the stamped code, were shipped or delivered to the retailer on August 6, 2012. The case has an applied label on the plastic wrap that says so. That is pretty early in the Fall. They had to have been manufactured in July at the latest, which is definitely not Fall at all. So Ball’s statement about when these new, BPA-free lids were first made is not very precise.

        Seeing this mix of packages at the stores leads me to think Ball has kept this change pretty quiet so that their retailers could sell off all the old stock they had on hand rather than have customers abandon it for the new, better lids.

        I didn’t call Ball again. I think I have all the info I can get now and they wouldn’t provide any more, citing proprietary reasons like they did with the author of the article.

        • leduesorelle says:

          Thanks for doing all of this amazing research! I checked at two stores and found much the same thing — depending on the turnover, there was a mix of inventory being sold, and the only jars that I found labeled were the blue Heritage pint ones.

  15. Canner says:

    P.S. I still wish a chemist would find out what is in the new lids and if it is safe, and do the same with the Tattler lids. Why is the consumer not permitted to know what she is buying and eating from? Seems like we have the right to know but the laws aren’t on our side these days.

  16. Canner says:

    I notice that the Aug. 9, 2012 article in the Mastering Food Preservation Series you have says the following:
    “Due to consumer demand, Jarden is working on a BPA alternative, but it must undergo testing prior to approval.”
    This is what Jarden (Ball’s owner) told the article’s author. But I have that case of jars with apparently BPA-free lids (matching Ball’s description of these lids in every way) that was shipped or delivered to the retailer 8/6/12. That must have been pretty fast “testing and approval”.
    Guess I should call Ball, after all, and ask about this.

  17. Canner says:

    Reading over this discussion, I want to clarify two things.

    I can’t be certain the lids I have from 2011 are non-BPA because I opened the cases back then and can’t recall for sure where the lids ended up, used or given away or in another box. So I am scratching 2011 lids from my end of the discussion.

    Also, the date on the 2012 lids is 8/16/12, not 8/6/12. I had a little trouble apparently with the fine print and so much lettering all close together on this stick-on label, but I have double-checked it.

    Confusion isn’t limited to me — your May 22, 2013 article, apparently directly quoting Jarden, says both “They began production/release of their BPA-free lids in January 2013″ and “BPA free lids began to roll out last Fall.”

    The bottom line is, it is hard to trust a company that says its new product is safe when they can’t get their story straight about when they manufactured or introduced it and won’t reveal what is in the new version “for proprietary reasons”. (And we don’t know what is in Tattler lids, either.)

    I’ll let you know the results of my phone call after I’ve made it. Please keep us informed of anything further that you hear.

  18. Canner says:

    I just spoke with a representative at Jarden. She said the cases with the yellow stripe and red BPA free lettering came out in January, 2013. The cases stamped with the letter and numbers code came out earlier, but she doesn’t know when. Like the earlier rep I spoke with, she kept telling me just to look at the lids themselves for the identifying features. So when in doubt, I will.

  19. Lisa says:

    I purchased a case of quart jars today which advertised that they were BPA free! And I found lids with the code (however, the wide mouth jars didn’t have the code!). Thanks for your post and information. Very helpful!

  20. Ruthann Assaid says:

    Why would they have BPA in them to begin with?

    • leduesorelle says:

      Great question! The lining is to keep the tin from corroding, especially with acidic foods like tomatoes. I’ve seen older canned goods where the food has reacted with the lids, forming a black deposit.

  21. Hollis says:

    Thank you all for the information. Lets get some perspective to — improperly preserved foods are a MUCH bigger risk than BPA absorbed over a lifetime. I know we all try to be as careful as possible. I personally haven’t switched to the Weck jars because of the investment and that I’ve been told that is is trickier to get a consistent seal.

  22. Michael Carr says:

    I purchased a box of four “Elite” pint jars on Amazon to make fermented salsa. While the lids weren’t stamped or imprinted to indicate BPA free, the center circle was beige rather than white, and the cardboard package they arrived in did have the code and “MADE IN USA” imprinted. I’m neither an expert nor a scientist, but I hope that fermenting (room temperature), rather than canning (heated temperature), mitigates the potential effects of whatever is used for these lids, BPA, BPS-free or whatnot.

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  24. Rob Wolfe says:

    Unfortunately their BPA-free lid still appears to be made of a polymer, (i.e. it probably contains problematic constituents like phthalates or Bisphenyl-S (BPS), which may be why Ball refused to comment on what the material is actually made of. The only real way to avoid endocrine disruptors in lids is to seek out old Kerr lids that are metal underneath, or to use brands like Weck, etc.

  25. Laura says:

    Help, please! I’ve got the BPA free lids and here’s what happened:
    I just purchased a set of 6 (64 oz) mason jars by Ball and there’s a BIG PROBLEM. The lids have a vinyl smell so bad it reminded me of a plastic doll we once purchased that turned out to be toxic! The lids have been out-gassing so much vinyl, that the interior of the GLASS jars reek. I rinsed them in hot water, then soaked them in hot soapy water, and am now soaking them in hot baking soda water. So far, they still smell poisonous. What on earth?? I double-checked the box and this set is most definitely meant for food. They wouldn’t even be safe to store dry goods in, let alone use for canning. Has anyone else had this happen to them? Can I buy lids from some other company that hopefully uses other materials and still have them fit the wide-mouth 64 oz jars? Assuming, of course, I can at least get THEM to stop smelling. And to think I passed up the no-name brand because I thought they might not be good enough quality. Any help appreciated, I’m in shock.

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