Food packaging industry leaders recently met to plan legislative and public relations defenses for the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), reported the Washington Post over the weekend. The chemical can be found in polycarbonate plastics, commonly used for baby bottles and sport bottles, as well as in the lining of most canned foods and some beverages. Studies suggest that BPA can mimic estrogen and may be linked to cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, reproductive abnormalities, neurobehaviorial and other health problems in children and adults.
There’s currently a wave of regulation of the chemical. Canada, Minnesota, Chicago, and Suffolk County, New York have passed bans on certain uses, there’s pending legislation in many other states and a potential federal ban making its way through Congress. The regulation has likely sparked the industry into its current focus: finding ways to get the public to accept the toxic chemical as part of their lives.
According to the Post, ideas ranged from "fear tactics," such as suggesting parents would lose access to baby food if BPA were banned, to promoting "consumer choice" by arguing that BPA is the price you pay for lower-cost canned foods (compared to frozen and fresh foods) despite the fact that there are already some BPA-free cans on the market. And the group discussed an additional $500,000 public relations effort that could include, "a pregnant young mother who would be willing to speak around the country about the benefits of BPA."
We have repeatedly called for BPA to be banned from food and beverage containers, and for the government to take immediate action to protect infants and children from BPA exposure. Some manufacturers and retailers have already begun removing BPA from their products. We hope that more will follow that example rather than relying on cynical public relations gimmicks.
—Kevin McCarthy, associate editor