ACTION LINE: How worried should we be about bisphenol A?

News Apr 15, 2016 by Al MacRury The Hamilton Spectator

Bisphenol A has been back in the news after a recent report concluded that despite growing consumer demand, the controversial compound is still commonly used in the lining or lids of many canned foods.

The findings were "alarming" — of nearly 200 food cans analyzed, 67 per cent contained "toxic" BPA-based epoxy, according to the study.

Products tested included name-brand vegetables, fruits, soups, broth, gravy, milk and beans.

But McMaster University professor Warren Foster says many other researchers have concluded that levels of BPA found in a wide variety of these food containers do not pose a danger.

BPA is used to make certain plastics and epoxy resins, says Foster, a professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

It was first synthesized in 1891 and put into commercial use in the mid-20th century.

"It is widely used in a vast number of applications including food packaging because it forms a barrier between the can and the food," Foster says. "This barrier is intended to provide added protection to the food by preventing air from entering the can."

Toxicity testing has shown BPA is relatively benign, according to Foster. "The concentrations that are needed to induce adverse health effects in animals are well above the concentrations measured in humans."

The majority of food regulatory agencies in governments around the world — including the European Food Safety Authority, American Food and Drug Administration, Health Canada and the Food Safety Commission of Japan — conclude BPA levels in canned food are too low to be a risk, he added. (Health Canada did order the removal of BPA from baby products because of concerns about the chemical's effect on children.)

But the coalition of six health and environmental organizations behind the March 30 report says exposure to even trace amounts of the chemical can disrupt human hormones and is linked to an increased risk of some types of cancer and other health impacts.

"Buyer Beware: Toxic BPA and Regrettable Substitutes in the Linings of Canned Food" was produced by the Breast Cancer Fund, Campaign for Healthier Solutions, Clean Production Action, the Ecology Center, Environmental Defence (Canada) and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families. It found:

• In the samples tested, 100 per cent of Campbell's cans (15 of 15) contained BPA-based epoxy, even though the company says it is making significant progress in its transition from BPA;

• 71 per cent of sampled Del Monte cans (10 of 14) tested positive for BPA-based epoxy resins;

• 50 per cent of sampled General Mills cans (six of 12) contained BPA.

Although fewer cans were tested from McCormick & Company (Thai Kitchen), Nestlé (Nestlé Carnation), Empire Company Limited, Goya Foods, Ocean Spray Cranberries, Thai AgriFoods and Vilore Foods, all of them contained BPA.

In Canada, the agencies tested 21 canned goods sold by Loblaw, Walmart and FreshCo (Sobeys) and found 17 contained BPA, Environmental Defence Canada's toxic program manager told The Spectator.

"We've been working to encourage companies to switch to safer chemistry and phase out harmful substances," says Maggie MacDonald. "A ban on BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups has been in place in Canada for years, but the more we learn about this chemical the more it becomes clear that broader restrictions are needed.

"France is banning BPA from all food contact materials, which paves the way for other jurisdictions to act."

Spokesperson Tom Hushen said Campbell's is moving away from BPA.

"So far, we've made two million cans using the new linings and began shipping soup in these cans in March. We will make an additional 10 million cans in April, and continue the transition until all our soup cans have acrylic or polyester linings. There are three key reasons the transition has taken longer than originally anticipated: the technical challenge, cost, and the overall complexity of transitioning more than 600 products to new linings."

General Mills says many scientific and governmental bodies say BPA is safe, but it understands consumers would prefer alternatives.

"Food safety is always our top priority," the company states. "We have been testing BPA alternatives for years. Once we confirm a viable alternative through rigorous testing, we will follow our Consumer First strategy to determine what makes sense for our Progresso consumers."

If you have a consumer problem, call 905-526-4665 or email amacrury@thespec.com . Not all calls and letters can be answered.

ACTION LINE: How worried should we be about bisphenol A?

News Apr 15, 2016 by Al MacRury The Hamilton Spectator

Bisphenol A has been back in the news after a recent report concluded that despite growing consumer demand, the controversial compound is still commonly used in the lining or lids of many canned foods.

The findings were "alarming" — of nearly 200 food cans analyzed, 67 per cent contained "toxic" BPA-based epoxy, according to the study.

Products tested included name-brand vegetables, fruits, soups, broth, gravy, milk and beans.

But McMaster University professor Warren Foster says many other researchers have concluded that levels of BPA found in a wide variety of these food containers do not pose a danger.

BPA is used to make certain plastics and epoxy resins, says Foster, a professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

It was first synthesized in 1891 and put into commercial use in the mid-20th century.

"It is widely used in a vast number of applications including food packaging because it forms a barrier between the can and the food," Foster says. "This barrier is intended to provide added protection to the food by preventing air from entering the can."

Toxicity testing has shown BPA is relatively benign, according to Foster. "The concentrations that are needed to induce adverse health effects in animals are well above the concentrations measured in humans."

The majority of food regulatory agencies in governments around the world — including the European Food Safety Authority, American Food and Drug Administration, Health Canada and the Food Safety Commission of Japan — conclude BPA levels in canned food are too low to be a risk, he added. (Health Canada did order the removal of BPA from baby products because of concerns about the chemical's effect on children.)

But the coalition of six health and environmental organizations behind the March 30 report says exposure to even trace amounts of the chemical can disrupt human hormones and is linked to an increased risk of some types of cancer and other health impacts.

"Buyer Beware: Toxic BPA and Regrettable Substitutes in the Linings of Canned Food" was produced by the Breast Cancer Fund, Campaign for Healthier Solutions, Clean Production Action, the Ecology Center, Environmental Defence (Canada) and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families. It found:

• In the samples tested, 100 per cent of Campbell's cans (15 of 15) contained BPA-based epoxy, even though the company says it is making significant progress in its transition from BPA;

• 71 per cent of sampled Del Monte cans (10 of 14) tested positive for BPA-based epoxy resins;

• 50 per cent of sampled General Mills cans (six of 12) contained BPA.

Although fewer cans were tested from McCormick & Company (Thai Kitchen), Nestlé (Nestlé Carnation), Empire Company Limited, Goya Foods, Ocean Spray Cranberries, Thai AgriFoods and Vilore Foods, all of them contained BPA.

In Canada, the agencies tested 21 canned goods sold by Loblaw, Walmart and FreshCo (Sobeys) and found 17 contained BPA, Environmental Defence Canada's toxic program manager told The Spectator.

"We've been working to encourage companies to switch to safer chemistry and phase out harmful substances," says Maggie MacDonald. "A ban on BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups has been in place in Canada for years, but the more we learn about this chemical the more it becomes clear that broader restrictions are needed.

"France is banning BPA from all food contact materials, which paves the way for other jurisdictions to act."

Spokesperson Tom Hushen said Campbell's is moving away from BPA.

"So far, we've made two million cans using the new linings and began shipping soup in these cans in March. We will make an additional 10 million cans in April, and continue the transition until all our soup cans have acrylic or polyester linings. There are three key reasons the transition has taken longer than originally anticipated: the technical challenge, cost, and the overall complexity of transitioning more than 600 products to new linings."

General Mills says many scientific and governmental bodies say BPA is safe, but it understands consumers would prefer alternatives.

"Food safety is always our top priority," the company states. "We have been testing BPA alternatives for years. Once we confirm a viable alternative through rigorous testing, we will follow our Consumer First strategy to determine what makes sense for our Progresso consumers."

If you have a consumer problem, call 905-526-4665 or email amacrury@thespec.com . Not all calls and letters can be answered.

ACTION LINE: How worried should we be about bisphenol A?

News Apr 15, 2016 by Al MacRury The Hamilton Spectator

Bisphenol A has been back in the news after a recent report concluded that despite growing consumer demand, the controversial compound is still commonly used in the lining or lids of many canned foods.

The findings were "alarming" — of nearly 200 food cans analyzed, 67 per cent contained "toxic" BPA-based epoxy, according to the study.

Products tested included name-brand vegetables, fruits, soups, broth, gravy, milk and beans.

But McMaster University professor Warren Foster says many other researchers have concluded that levels of BPA found in a wide variety of these food containers do not pose a danger.

BPA is used to make certain plastics and epoxy resins, says Foster, a professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

It was first synthesized in 1891 and put into commercial use in the mid-20th century.

"It is widely used in a vast number of applications including food packaging because it forms a barrier between the can and the food," Foster says. "This barrier is intended to provide added protection to the food by preventing air from entering the can."

Toxicity testing has shown BPA is relatively benign, according to Foster. "The concentrations that are needed to induce adverse health effects in animals are well above the concentrations measured in humans."

The majority of food regulatory agencies in governments around the world — including the European Food Safety Authority, American Food and Drug Administration, Health Canada and the Food Safety Commission of Japan — conclude BPA levels in canned food are too low to be a risk, he added. (Health Canada did order the removal of BPA from baby products because of concerns about the chemical's effect on children.)

But the coalition of six health and environmental organizations behind the March 30 report says exposure to even trace amounts of the chemical can disrupt human hormones and is linked to an increased risk of some types of cancer and other health impacts.

"Buyer Beware: Toxic BPA and Regrettable Substitutes in the Linings of Canned Food" was produced by the Breast Cancer Fund, Campaign for Healthier Solutions, Clean Production Action, the Ecology Center, Environmental Defence (Canada) and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families. It found:

• In the samples tested, 100 per cent of Campbell's cans (15 of 15) contained BPA-based epoxy, even though the company says it is making significant progress in its transition from BPA;

• 71 per cent of sampled Del Monte cans (10 of 14) tested positive for BPA-based epoxy resins;

• 50 per cent of sampled General Mills cans (six of 12) contained BPA.

Although fewer cans were tested from McCormick & Company (Thai Kitchen), Nestlé (Nestlé Carnation), Empire Company Limited, Goya Foods, Ocean Spray Cranberries, Thai AgriFoods and Vilore Foods, all of them contained BPA.

In Canada, the agencies tested 21 canned goods sold by Loblaw, Walmart and FreshCo (Sobeys) and found 17 contained BPA, Environmental Defence Canada's toxic program manager told The Spectator.

"We've been working to encourage companies to switch to safer chemistry and phase out harmful substances," says Maggie MacDonald. "A ban on BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups has been in place in Canada for years, but the more we learn about this chemical the more it becomes clear that broader restrictions are needed.

"France is banning BPA from all food contact materials, which paves the way for other jurisdictions to act."

Spokesperson Tom Hushen said Campbell's is moving away from BPA.

"So far, we've made two million cans using the new linings and began shipping soup in these cans in March. We will make an additional 10 million cans in April, and continue the transition until all our soup cans have acrylic or polyester linings. There are three key reasons the transition has taken longer than originally anticipated: the technical challenge, cost, and the overall complexity of transitioning more than 600 products to new linings."

General Mills says many scientific and governmental bodies say BPA is safe, but it understands consumers would prefer alternatives.

"Food safety is always our top priority," the company states. "We have been testing BPA alternatives for years. Once we confirm a viable alternative through rigorous testing, we will follow our Consumer First strategy to determine what makes sense for our Progresso consumers."

If you have a consumer problem, call 905-526-4665 or email amacrury@thespec.com . Not all calls and letters can be answered.