Boston/San Francisco/Toronto – Fourteen of the largest public packaged food companies in North America still use the controversial chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in their packaging, according to a new survey by US shareholder groups As You Sow and Green Century Capital Management. Various studies have linked the hormone-mimicking chemical, even at low-doses, to birth and developmental defects, breast and prostate cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
BPA is used in food and beverage can linings and some hard clear plastic. The chemical is known to leak from packaging into food and beverages. In March, Health Canada revealed that 96% of canned drinks contain BPA, the chemical that was banned from baby bottles and proposed for placement on the Federal List of Toxic Substances late last year.
“The results of this survey are alarming in light of what we know about BPA, the availability of feasible alternatives for many products, and the advantages of moving away from its use,” said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director of Environmental Defence and co-author of the forthcoming book Slow Death by Rubber Duck: How the Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Life Affects Our Health. “Companies that continue to use BPA will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.”
The survey, Seeking Safer Packaging, evaluated 20 publicly traded companies and found that all but four of the 14 respondents had failed to develop safer alternatives, and only one of them had begun using a substitute. All companies surveyed have products on Canadian shelves.
The report awarded its top scores to Hain Celestial, maker of Rice Dream and Soy Dream, Heinz, and Nestlé. These companies were leaders both for research and testing of alternatives to BPA and for their plans to phase out the chemical in some products. According to the report, Heinz is the only respondent already using a substitute to BPA in some of its can linings.
Other companies surveyed include Campbell Soup, Coca-Cola, ConAgra (maker of Chef Boyardee and Hunt’s), Chiquita, Dean Foods (maker of Silk Soymilk), Del Monte, General Mills, Hershey, Hormel (maker of Stagg Chili and Spam), J.M. Smucker, Kellogg, Kraft, McCormick (owner of the ClubHouse brand), PepsiCo, Sara Lee, Sysco (maker of Casa Solana Chunky Salsa), and Unilever (maker of Becel and Lipton products).
“This report clearly highlights the need for the federal government to set another international precedent by removing BPA from all food and beverage containers,” said Smith. “While we applaud the government’s decision to get rid of BPA in baby bottles, it must go further – companies on their own are obviously not doing enough to ensure that Canadian adults and children, who are most susceptible to BPA’s effects, are not exposed to this harmful chemical.”
About Environmental Defence (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence protects the environment and human health. We research solutions. We educate. We go to court when we have to. All in order to ensure clean air, clean water and thriving ecosystems nationwide, and to bring a halt to Canada’s contribution to climate change.
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For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 232; (647) 280-9521 (cell)   
Emily Stone, Green Century Capital Management, (617) 482-0800
Amy Galland, As You Sow, (415) 391-3212 ext. 42