Campbell's will remove BPA from soup cans

Campbell's has announced plans to move forward with BPA-free packaging, regardless of U.S. Food and Drug Administration decision on the chemical, due later this month.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will decide whether or not to ban the use of BPA in food packaging by March 31, but Campbell’s has committed to removing the chemical from their soup packaging regardless of the outcome, a report in the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal has indicated.

The agreement by Campbell’s follows a list of other companies that have been in the process of moving away from the highly controversial lining. U.S. brands that do not use BPA include Eden Foods, Muir Glen, Edward & Son, Trader Joe's, Vital Choice, Wild Planet Foods, Oregon's Choice Gourmet and Eco Fish. Companies Heinz, Hain Celestial Group and ConAgra have previously announced that they are moving away from using BPA in their packaging.

Campbell’s Soup spokesman Anthony Sanzio indicated to the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal that the company has been working on an alternative for their can linings, and plans to switch to the alternative when “feasible alternatives are available.” He did not, however, provide a date to indicate just when that might be accomplished.

Although BPA is allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the linings of food products, and has been used in linings and in hard plastics since the 1960s, the FDA did announce that it had developed concerns about the use of the chemical in 2010:

“Studies employing standardized toxicity tests have thus far supported the safety of current low levels of human exposure to BPA. However, on the basis of results from recent studies using novel approaches to test for subtle effects, both the National Toxicology Program at the National Institutes of Health and FDA have some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children. In cooperation with the National Toxicology Program, FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research is carrying out in-depth studies to answer key questions and clarify uncertainties about the risks of BPA.”

At the time, the FDA indicated that it planned to reassess the use of BPA by June 2011, but it did not happen. However, in a long-awaited response to a lawsuit, in which the Natural Resources Defense Council sued the FDA in August when the FDA missed its deadline to rule on the safety of BPA, following a petition by the NRDC in Oct. 2008, the FDA gave the March 31 deadline. According to a blog on the NRDC website on Dec. 7, 2011:

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finally committed to a decision by March 31, 2012 on whether to ban BPA from use in packaging for food and drinks. This was announced today as part of a settlement agreement with NRDC.

“More than three years ago, NRDC filed a petition with FDA asking it to ban the use of BPA as a food additive. We waited and we waited, but never got an answer. FDA could have agreed to ban BPA, rejected our petition, or accepted some parts of it and not others, but instead it chose not to respond at all.

“Legally, FDA has no more than 180 days to respond to a written petition. We filed that petition in October 2008, so that deadline came and went long ago without any ruling. After waiting 18 months without a response, we filed a lawsuit asking the court to intervene and require a date certain for the agency to respond.”

Now, the FDA will decide by the end of this month whether or not to ban the chemical completely in all food packaging, as the French did in February.

BPA has been reported to be present in the urine of 93 percent of Americans tested; it is also known to mimic the hormone estrogen, as indicated in the journal Endocrine-Related Cancer.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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