There's power in numbers! Thanks to the nearly 20,000 people who took action against Campbell Soup Co, Del Monte Foods and General Mills, we made it loud and clear that consumers want BPA out of our canned foods and replaced with safe alternatives.
If you wrote to the companies, you likely received at least one "canned" response after voicing your concerns regarding BPA in canned food products. Some of you even went above and beyond by contacting companies that this action didn't target, but are in your own cupboard. And many of you shared them with us. Thanks!
We thought the information you gathered was really important to share with other Breast Cancer Fund supporters, so I've compiled all the company responses below. Now you can see for yourself what your favorite brand has to say about BPA.
Surprise, surprise, some companies remained totally silent on BPA. Some hid behind the FDA assessment that BPA is safe (a highly contentious decision now under review). Other companies discussed alternatives that they were planning to phase in, but didn't disclose what the alternatives are or if they've been tested for safety. As a shopper and eater, I want to be confident that the alternative to a BPA-lined can isn't more toxic or just as harmful.
So what's next? We (the Breast Cancer Fund, you, people you know) must continue to push these companies to make all of their products BPA-free and to be transparent with customers about the BPA-free alternatives they're using. Transparency is vital in ensuring that consumers are confident that our health and safety far outweigh the importance of making a quick buck.
And if you've received a response from a company that's not listed here, please email it to us! If you want to reach out to more companies, copy our letter and adapt it; you can find a customer service email address or online comment form on the company's website.
Canned food makers' responses to your concerns about BPA
"As you may know, Amy's has been working on a replacement for some time, and we are pleased that we are now starting to phase in soup production in cans with non BPA linings. We are receiving and using the new cans as soon as they are available from our can suppliers, who are scaling up as quickly as possible. Right now, we are hopeful that Amy's can be packing all our canned products in non BPA lined cans by December of 2011.
We will keep your email address and, when the changeover to non BPA cans is complete, we'll notify you of the code dates you can look for to identify the non BPA cans.
Currently we are not able to identify these new FDA approved canned linings, until this proprietary information is released by our can suppliers."
Campbell Soup Co.:
Con Agra (Chef Boyardee, Healthy Choice, Hunts, Pam, ReddiWhip, Libby's, RoTel, Rosarita, VanCamps, Wolf):
"ConAgra Foods remains confident in the safety of all of its products, including canned items that utilize liners made with Bisphenol A (BPA). We will continue to closely monitor any emerging regulations, as well as consumer expectations, regarding BPA's use in food contact applications. Our ongoing commitment to food safety, quality, the environment and consumers means that we constantly work to improve the packaging of our products. In regard to alternatives to BPA coatings, we have begun packaging some products, specifically tomatoes, in non-BPA lined cans, and we will continue to evaluate non-BPA liners for the remainder of our canned-product portfolio."
Del Monte Foods:
"Currently, all Del Monte Foods' canned products contain trace amount of BPA. In response to growing consumer and customer interest, Del Monte Foods is actively exploring BPA-free can lining alternatives with our can manufacturers and suppliers. In fact, we have started transitioning to BPA-free linings for some of our tomato products where the new linings have been proven safe and effective. We are progressing toward transitioning all of our canned food products to BPA-free linings in the next two to four years, provided alternatives can be identified that meet our safety and quality standards for each unique product line.
"Del Monte's top priority is the quality and safety of our products. For more than 40 years, BPA has been approved by the FDA for use in food contact applications, and can coatings containing BPA have played an essential part in food preservation. Any replacement for BPA coatings must first pass rigorous safety and quality testing before it will be accepted by Del Monte for use in our products."
"All Eden Organic Beans, Refried Beans, Chilies and Rice & Beans are cooked in steel cans coated with a baked on oleoresinous c-enamel that does not contain the endocrine disrupter chemical, bisphenol-A (BPA). Oleoresin is a non-toxic mixture of an oil and a resin extracted from various plants, such as pine or balsam fir. All Eden Foods that are canned in BPA-free packages are labeled on the can."
General Mills (Progresso, Muir Glen):
"Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a critical component of protective coatings widely used in metal food packaging to help preserve food and maintain its nutritional value and quality. Most canned food and beverage products on the market today use BPA in the can lining or can lid.
"Scientific and governmental bodies worldwide have examined the science and concluded that the weight of evidence continues to support the safety of BPA, including comprehensive risk assessments in Japan and in the European Union. While studies continue, food safety regulators are not recommending any specific changes or actions in can lining applications, including those using BPA.
"General Mills uses can coatings that fully comply with all applicable global requirements for safe use in food contact materials. But we know that some consumer would like us to pursue alternatives – and we are working intensively with our can suppliers and manufacturers to develop and test linings that do not use BPA. While alternatives have not been identified for all types of foods, we did identify a safe, viable alternative for our tomato products under the Muir Glen brand. We began transitioning those to the alternative cans with the fall 2010 tomato harvest.
"With other alternatives currently being tested, we are optimistic that new options will be identified in time. When viable alternative prove safe and effective for other products, we would expect can suppliers and the food industry – in response to consumer interest – to convert to alternative coatings."
Muir Glen (General Mills-owned):
"Bisphenol-A is a component of protective coatings in metal food packaging, and provides an important food safety and quality function in canned foods. Scientific and governmental bodies worldwide have examined the science many times and have concluded that the weight of evidence supports the safety of BPA, including recent comprehensive assessments in Japan and in the European Union.
"In January 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced another review of BPA. This review in expected to take 18-24 months, and Health Canada and the World Health Organization (WHO) will participate.
"Most metal cans in the food industry utilize BPA in the can lining or can lid. Some of our products do, and many competitors' products do as well.
"Muir Glen continues to believe BPA is safe. However, we know that some of our consumers have wanted us to pursue alternatives. We have been working with our can suppliers and can manufacturers to develop and test alternative linings that do not use BPA for some time.
"One alternative has proven safe and viable in our processing of tomatoes – and Muir Glen is in the midst of transitioning to cans with liners that do not use BPA. It is an approved non-epoxy alternative. Can coatings used by Muir Glen also comply fully with all applicable U.S. Food and Drug Administration requirements for safe use in food contact applications."
Peter Pan Seafood Company (canned seafood):
"At the moment, the can coating used in our salmon cans does contain miniscule amounts of BPA. We are actively working with our can supplier to develop BPA free linings and eliminate BPA from all of our canned products. This summer we are planning on producing our largest ever BPA free test pack. However, it is not yet known when we will be able to convert all of our products to BPA free cans."
"BPA (Bisphenol A) is an epoxy used in manufacturing the plastic (resin enamel) lining of canned goods. This resin lining in cans prevents spoilage.
"This is an industry-wide issue for manufacturers of food-grade cans and canned foods. Work is being done within the industry to develop alternative, BPA-free linings for canned products. The canned food industry has relied on this method for many years and is scrambling to come up with solutions that do not trade one perceived problem for a degradation in food safety.
"To be clear, our receipt paper does contain BPA and we do have some canned items that have linings containing BPA. In this way we are in the same position as all other retail grocers. Also please know that NONE of our TJ'S products in plastic will contain BPA.
"The debate between governmental agencies, manufacturers, and the scientific community is ongoing-options for non-BPA materials are being tested and there are new formats entering the marketplace.
"We are handling this issue in the same manner as previous matters of concern: we're listening to the feedback our customers are providing and exploring options to put that feedback into place in a meaningful way."
Santa Cruz Organics:
“Thank you for contacting R.W. Knudsen Family® with your inquiry regarding our metal beverage packaging. We greatly appreciate and value the input we receive from all of our consumers and customers.
“For more than 100 years, consumer safety and product quality have been of paramount importance to The J.M. Smucker Company. Our products are manufactured using strict quality control procedures that meet or exceed all applicable government and industry standards. All the materials used in our food packaging and containers are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in food contact applications.
“While our metal packaging poses no risk to consumers we understand consumer concerns relating to bisphenol A (BPA). Our metal packaging includes a BPA-derived protective liner that serves to preserve the freshness of our product. The safety of these protective liners has been affirmed by independent scientific reviews by regulatory agencies including the FDA, the United Kingdom Food Standards Agency and the European Food Safety Authority.”
Hain-Celestial (Westbrae Natural):
"Unfortunately, at present there are no commercially available BPA-free packaging alternatives that are safe and effective for coatings used for the linings of steel cans containing acidic products.
“Metal cans are coated with an epoxy resin containing BPA in order to prevent them from corroding when coming in contact with high-acid foods like tomato sauce. While commercially available, BPA-free, epoxy resin-lined steel cans do exist, they can only be used for low-acid, non-corrosive foods like beans. We are conducting plant trials to evaluate a BPA-free lined can for our low-acid foods. Additionally, we are working with our packaging suppliers to investigate alternative BPA-free metal cans that can be used across all product acidity."