Why I buy canned tomatoes (and which brands to avoid) tinned-min

Why I buy canned tomatoes (and which brands to avoid)

I buy almost all of my produce fresh, but one of the few things I buy canned (shock horror!) is tomatoes.

Before I go any further – BPA

Let’s talk about BPA (Bisphenol-A). One of the main reasons put forward as to why you shouldn't buy food like tomatoes in cans, is that there is a risk of BPA exposure. As tomatoes are acidic, there is a concern about chemicals leaching from the tin liners into the produce. Unfortunately, given the acidity of tomatoes, the main way to mitigate this risk would be to buy tomatoes in glass jars. It seems that no canned tomatoes are sold in BPA-free cans (though there is a problem with that too – as those types of cans may contain another risky chemical – BPS–Bisphenol S). Yet, I still buy canned tomatoes…

Canned tomatoes tinned BPA tomato paleo diet brands fresh-min

So why do I buy canned tomatoes?

Until I can harvest and preserve my own tomatoes (which is going to take a good few months), I’m going to be buying them canned.

I often find the fresh tomatoes sold don't seem to be quite in season, and have been picked far too early. Use them as they are, and the flavour is completely lacking. Take them home and ripen them – and I almost always miss that sweet spot of ripeness and end up with a rotten mess. Tinned tomatoes are canned at the perfect moment and are always full of flavour.

Also – have you seen how much fresh tomatoes cost? At the time of writing this fresh tomatoes are $9.98 a kilo (for those reading from the US, that’s $4.53 a pound). No, not organic tomatoes, just regular tomatoes. That’s about $1.10 to $1.40 for one single tomato. Over a dollar for on tomato. That’s a lot of money. I hate that money has to come into it, but spending $10 on a few tomatoes to make a simple sauce is just not in my budget. I’d rather spend that money on meat.

Canned tomatoes are also peeled, which is a great convenience.

I use tomatoes as the base of so many of my recipes, so it’s handy to always have lots on hand – another reason I like to buy canned.

Yes, the BPA risk is a concern, but given this isn't a significant part of my diet, this is a risk I feel justified in taking.

But what’s in the can?

What I am concerned with, is what is actually in the can. Have you seen some of the ingredients?

I just want tomatoes in my can of tomatoes. Too much to ask for? Fortunately, there are a few brands I've found that do just contain tomatoes…

My advice is to choose a brand that is just tomatoes (no seasoning or herbs – add your own) and check the ingredients carefully.

These are some of the ingredients in some popular brands I've found. Aside from Tomatoes, tomato juice and tomato puree, the brands I looked at also contained:

  • Firming Agent (509),
  • Acidity Regulator: Citric Acid (E330)
  • Calcium Chloride

Here are the brands to choose and avoid

I've highlighted the ones I would use in red. I'd rather give citric acid and the other additions a miss…

  • Annalisa Diced Tomatoes: 100% Certified Italian Tomatoes.
  • Annalisa: Peeled Tomatoes: Peeled tomatoes, tomato juice.
  • Ardmona Whole Tomatoes No Added Salt: Tomatoes (57% Min), Tomato Juice, Firming Agent (509), Food Acid (Citric Acid).
  • Bella Terra Organic Italian Whole Peeled Tomatoes: Selected Organic Italian Tomatoes In Organic Tomato Puree, Organic Basil
  • Capriccio Diced Italian Tomatoes: Diced Tomatoes (60%), Tomato Juice, Acidity Regulator: Citric Acid (E330)
  • Capriccio: Whole Peeled Tomatoes:   400g Tomatoes (60%), Tomato Juice, Acidity Regulator: (Citric Acid).
  • Cento Petite Diced Tomatoes: Fresh Red Ripe Tomatoes, Tomato Juice, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Naturally Derived Citric Acid
  • Cento San Marzano Peeled Tomatoes: San Marzano Plum Peeled Tomatoes, San Marzano Puree, Basil Leaf, Naturally Derived Citric Acid, Salt
  • Cirio Chopped Tomatoes: Chopped Tomatoes 65%, Tomato Paste, Salt, Acidity Regulator: Citric Acid
  • Coles Diced Tomatoes: Tomatoes (60%), Tomato Juice, Food Acid (Citric Acid)
  • Coles Organic Diced Tomatoes: Organic Tomatoes (60%) ,Organic Tomato Juice (40%)
  • Coles Smart Buy Whole Peeled Tomatoes: Whole Peeled Tomatoes (60%),Tomato Juice,Acidity Regulator (Citric Acid)
  • Cook Italian Peeled Plum Tomatoes: Italian Tomatoes (65%), Concentrated Italian Tomato Juice, Acidity Regulator: Citric Acid
  • Dell'Alpe Crushed Tomatoes: Tomatoes, Tomato Puree, Salt, Calcium Chloride, and Citric Acid.
  • Heinz Chopped Tomatoes: Tomatoes (65%), Tomato Juice (35%), Acidity Regulator – Citric Acid
  • La Valle Italian Peeled Tomatoes: Peeled Tomatoes, Tomato Puree, Basil Leaf, Salt, Citric Acid.
  • Muir Glen Canned Diced Tomatoes: Organic Tomatoes And Tomato Juice, Naturally Derived Citric Acid And Calcium Chloride.
  • Mutti Baby Roma Tomatoes: Date Tomatoes, Tomato Juice.
  • Napolina Chopped Tomatoes: Chopped Tomatoes (70%), Tomato Juice, Citric Acid
  • Parioli Chopped Tomatoes : Chopped Tomatoes (65%), Concentrated Tomato Juice, Acidity Regulator (Citric Acid)
  • Pomi Sauces Chopped Tomatoes: Tomatoes
  • Racconto Whole Peeled Tomatoes: Tomatoes, Tomato Juice, Salt, Calcium Chloride and Citric Acid.
  • Woolworths Homebrand Tomatoes Diced: Diced Tomatoes (65%), Tomato Juice, Acidity Regulator (Citric Acid).
  • Woolworths Select Tomatoes Diced: Australian Diced Tomatoes (52%), Tomato Puree, Firming Agent (509), Acidity Regulator (Citric Acid).

Do you use canned tomatoes – or is the BPA risk a concern for you? Which is your go to brand? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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22 replies
  1. Kym
    Kym says:

    Informative post about which canned tomatoes to avoid, except none of them were highlighted for me. Can you please let me know which ones are the best to use and which I should avoid? Thank you

  2. ConcernedChemist
    ConcernedChemist says:

    Hunts tomato products will be in BPA free cans by the end of 2014.
    No food company has ever ever ever used BPS as a replacement in food cans – this was a rumor started when the paper receipt industry switched. The “S” which is sulfur would make the food taste awful.

  3. michael
    michael says:

    Thanks for the red highlighted info. My concern was to get away from HALAL certified pasta sauces and tomato purée, I wanted to make my own at home using the purest ingredients that I can, good work Suz and thank you.

    • sheila
      sheila says:

      What do you mean halal? Non meat products are halal are without any meat; alcohol derivatives so what is your problem?

      • Beth
        Beth says:

        I imagine he is referring to Halal certification, which many businesses are paying for, even though the product is Halal by nature.

  4. Ellen
    Ellen says:

    Hi, I’ve just made a minestrone soup and searched high and low (like you have) for tomatoes with the least amount of additives. I settled on the Coles brand. After eating (and feeding my toddler) I’m shocked at how sweet the soup was. So this has got me thinking about what might be in the tomato juice added to the can, I’m guessing sugar. I hate it when I make food from scratch for my family only to find (despite my best efforts) that I have pumped them full of refined sugar!! It’s so hard to escape this sugar obsession that big business is pushing. Anyway, just thought I’d ask if you knew what else might be lurking under the label?

    • Suz
      Suz says:

      Hi Ellen, gosh that would be shocking if sugar was added. I’m sure there’s no way they could sneak sugar in, without putting it on the label, what a terrible thought. Hopefully the tomatoes used were perhaps overripe, which would have increased their natural sugar content.

      • Jes
        Jes says:

        Surely no sugar is allowed to be added to the tomato juice without it being a listed ingredient, but the fact that it has 40+% juice or any juice for that matter will of course mean way more sugar than just diced tomatoes alone because of all the fiber that has been removed. Compare the nutritional carbs listed to that of fresh tomatoes, it’s way higher. Perhaps salt could enhance the sweetness???

  5. Sonja G
    Sonja G says:

    What about bottled tomato like passata? I believe the lids may have a bit of BPA in the lining, but it’s much less than the whole can? I’m looking to switch from organic Aldi or organic Coles tinned tomato to passata…

    • Suz
      Suz says:

      Hi Sonja, I should have included Passata as a good option. I’ve found most brands have very minimal ingredients and seem to be imported from Italy. Also as you say, the glass jars are another bonus.

  6. TJ
    TJ says:

    While I understand the tendency to want to avoid all chemical sounding ingredients, that isn’t actually always the right choice. Cooks illustrated gave an in depth explanation why calcium chloride in canned tomatoes is actually a good thing. I recommend you give it a read.

  7. Carol
    Carol says:

    I prefer to use the Mutti brand passata. It is in a glass jar. It is processed smooth though so if chunks are needed Mutti tomatoes or Annalisa in a can.

  8. Anton
    Anton says:

    Better even: fresh cooking tomatoes are generally available in NSW and VIC from March to June. These are vine-ripened to give them loads more flavour and less liquid, which makes them very useful for pasta sauce and tomato soup. Harvest Hub sells them for about $2 – $2.50 a kg, sourced from the NSW Mid-North Coast. Cheaper than cans, and no BPA. They’re a Sydney-based social enterprise supplying about 90 food coops. (Sorry if this sounds like a plug: I work for them!)

  9. Carolyn Potter
    Carolyn Potter says:

    Yes I’m concerned about BPA but more concerned about donating to Halal. Please can you inform me if there are any NON-HALAL canned, bottled, or packets of tomatoes and Tom paste available, and where I could purchase them I live in South Australia, Australia. I would even consider ordering online.


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