EWG brand survey calls for more action on BPA cans

US environmental advocacy organisation the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has published the results of wide-ranging investigation into canned food sold in the US.

Washington DC-based EWG used market research firm Label Insight to compile data on 252 brands sold in the US in 2014. It aimed to ascertain to what extent the use of bisphenol A (BPA) epoxy continues within the metal can container chain.

Ongoing consumer concern over alleged effects on the human endocrine system has led some of these to switch towards BPA-free containers, but EWG asserts more work remains to be done.

It found only 31 brands (12%) used BPA-free cans for all its products – a further 34 (14%) used them for at least one product. Seventy eight (31%) of those surveyed used the epoxy in all its canned goods. A large degree of uncertainty is introduced to the survey, as the remaining 43% of brands failed to provide information to the EWG, or submitted incomplete data.

EWG data analyst Samara Geller helped compile the report – BPA in Canned Food: Behind The Brand Curtain. She says: ‘The marketplace changes that we are seeing are being driven largely by consumers who are speaking up, and demanding cleaner products and better options.

‘The biggest problem is that people have no reliable way of knowing whether they are buying food that is laced with this toxic chemical. Federal regulations do not require manufacturers to label their products to identify cans with BPA-based linings. By releasing this analysis, we hope to arm people with the critical information they need to avoid BPA and make smarter shopping decisions.’

The EWG study goes on to make a series of recommendations, including independent testing by brands of the BPA-status of their containers; a tougher stance by the federal enforcement agencies; and the adoption of a 1 part per billion standard for BPA in food cans. It suggests consumers should favour those brands it has found to be using BPA-free packaging across their product ranges.

Geller concludes: ‘Some companies are entirely BPA-free, while others, like Eden Foods and Natural Value, are virtually BPA-free. We applaud these companies as well as retailers – such as Whole Foods Market – that are pushing the market towards non-BPA alternatives and phasing out BPA-coated products from store shelves.’

To pressure those who have so far ignored the industry trend to substitute away from BPA, the EWG is organising an online petition. Critics in the food industry will note that many of the alternatives to BPA are not proven to be less hazardous. EWG does acknowledge this fact, and calls for better testing of these too.

 

This article comes from Food Contact World, which provides exclusive news and analysis on developments in digital print trends, markets, and technologies.