Market Actions on BPA
At a Glance
BCPP has been at the forefront of educating the public and policymakers about the dangers of bisphenol A (BPA) since 2006. The visibility and pressure created by BCPP and allies, along with emerging science, has brought BPA to the forefront of the federal debate on toxic chemicals. We have moved the market away from the use of BPA in baby bottles, sippy cups, infant formula packaging and sports water bottles.
Cans Not Cancer Campaign
BCPP’s Cans Not Cancer campaign launched in 2011 to build the public and political will necessary to drive BPA out of the lining of canned foods and more strictly regulate unsafe chemicals in food packaging.
Cans Not Cancer pressures canned food manufactures to stop lining cans with BPA in favor of safer alternatives.
The goal of BCPP’s Cans Not Cancer campaign is to ensure safe and healthy food packaging for everyone. To keep potentially harmful substitutes off the market, Cans Not Cancer calls on manufacturers to commit to the following actions:
- Eliminate BPA from all food packaging and establish timelines and benchmarks for the transition to safer alternatives.
- Report their plan to find a comparatively safer alternative with a timeline for full hazard disclosure.
- Label all chemicals used in can liners, including BPA or BPA alternatives.
- Shift to safer, alternative packaging where possible while seeking a safe BPA alternative.
- Demand their suppliers of can linings fully disclose safety data so as to provide a higher level of transparency to consumers.
- Take the GreenScreen Challenge and assess potential human health and environmental hazards of bisphenol A (BPA) alternatives they are considering or already using to line canned foods.
Consumers have the right to know, at the point of purchase, if the food cans they are buying contain BPA or BPA alternatives, and whether these packaging additives have been tested for safety. This information is necessary so that consumers can make safe and informed choices for themselves and their families. Safer packaging is currently available for many types of foods (e.g., glass containers, paperboard-based packaging, etc.). Manufacturers should commit to shifting packaging to safer forms where possible until safe replacements for BPA in cans can be developed.
The primary corporate target of the Cans Not Cancer campaign is Campbell Soup Company, a leader in the canned food industry grossing over $2.4 billion in sales annually. A snapshot of our investigation into and advocacy directed toward Campbell’s includes:
- In product tests conducted in 2010 and 2011, BCPP found BPA in Campbell’s canned food products.
- In 2011, the Cans Not Cancer Campaign generated 70,000 letters to the Campbell’s CEO demanding the multinational giant stop lining their food cans with BPA and replace it with a safer alternative.
- After months of pressure from consumer, public health and concerned parents’ organizations, in 2012 Campbell’s Soup Company announced on a shareholder earnings call that it would phase out the use of BPA in its can linings. However, the company did not provide a timeline or identify what alternative can-lining materials it will use.
- Most recently, BCPP’s March 2016 Buyer Beware Report: Toxic BPA and Regrettable Substitutes in the Lining of Canned Food found 15 out of 15 Campbell’s cans contained BPA-based epoxy, even though the company claimed to be making significant progress in its transition away from BPA.
- Upon learning about the Buyer Beware report, Campbell’s announced they would eliminate BPA in North American cans by mid- 2017.
While this is a step in the right direction, the statement left out important details that we think would make Campbell’s soup truly safe for everyone:
- No time frame for a global phase-out of BPA. Campbell’s sells in 120 countries around the world, and should make a commitment to making the safest cans possible everywhere they do business.
- No commitment to label cans still made with BPA. They did not mention plans to label cans that are lined with toxic BPA during the phase out, a key tenet of the Cans Not Cancer Campaign and critically important to a consumer’s ability to make safe and informed purchases.
- Informed substitution is missing. Publicly disclosing the safety of their BPA alternatives is a key step from a business and public health perspective toward informed substitution. Consumers want BPA-free food cans that are truly safer, not food cans lined with BPA-alternatives that may be equally or even more toxic.
- They did not adopt a formal safe packaging chemical policy. This would guide Campbell’s review and safe substitution of other chemicals of concern in their food packaging. By doing so, Campbell’s would communicate to the public their commitment to addressing the larger problem of unsafe chemicals in food packaging and continuous improvement.
Campbell’s website already identifies products that are GMO-free or free of high fructose corn syrup or MSG. The need for disclosure on packaging and online is consistent with the growing demand for greater transparency and consumer-right-to-know in the food and consumer products arena.
That’s why Cans Not Cancer urges Campbell Soup Company to expand their plan to transition away from BPA in North American food cans to include the rest of the 120 countries where they sell canned foods. We also demand they label and release safety data for their BPA alternatives.
As consumers learn more about the toxic chemicals they are being exposed to in everyday items, the potential health impacts and the lack of federal oversight, they “speak” with their pocketbooks, demanding safer products for themselves and their families. And the market listens. Cans Not Cancer is about your health, our children’s health, and a safer future in which breast cancer rates have dropped because we’ve reduced our exposure to toxic chemicals.