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Why Campbell’s Soup is phasing out BPA

The use of bisphenol A (BPA) in food manufacturing has come under fire these past few years, and now one company is doing something about it.  First, a little history:  In 2009, Consumer Reports tested for BPA in soup, vegetables, tuna, and other canned products from companies like Campbell’s, Chef Boyardee, Del Monte, Nestlé, and Progresso:

The highest levels of BPA in our tests were found in the canned green beans and canned soup. In Progresso Vegetable Soup, the levels of BPA ranged from 67 to 134 ppb. In Campbell’s Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup, the levels of BPA ranged from 54.5 to 102 ppb. Canned Del Monte Fresh Cut Green Beans Blue Lake had BPA levels ranging from 35.9 ppb to 191 ppb, the highest amount for a single sample in our test. Since we didn’t test other canned green beans or soups, we don’t know if this is typical of those products.

CR’s findings indicate the extent of potential exposure: Consumers eating just one serving of the canned vegetable soup it tested would get about double what the FDA now considers typical average dietary daily exposure.

This week comes the announcement that Campbell Soup Company is phasing out BPA in it’s can packaging process. Here is the story via Food Safety News:

Campbell’s Soup Phasing Out BPA Use in Cans

Although it maintains that the bisphenol A (BPA) in its cans is safe, the Campbell Soup Company says it has already switched to alternatives in some packaging as it ends the use of the controversial chemical.

The Camden, NJ-based food giant announced the move in a recent conference call with financial analysts. Craig Owens, Campbell’s senior vice president, chief financial and administrative officer, said the company thinks BPA is safe, but is nevertheless reacting to public concern.

“The trust we’ve earned from our consumers for over 140 years is paramount for us,” Owens said.

The decision was hailed by the Breast Cancer Fund (BCF) as a victory for consumers. But the group called on Campbell’s to disclose its timeline for the phase-out and reveal the alternatives it will use.

Last year, after the BCF tested 12 canned food products popular for children, it announced that the Campbell foods had the four highest levels of BPA. As part of a “Cans Not Cancer” campaign, the group said more than 70,000 letters were sent to Campbell urging the company to stop using BPA in its packaging.

BPA is a chemical, used in the epoxy resin that coats cans to protect against spoilage. The concern is that BPA can leach into the food or beverage.

Campbell’s decision is the latest step in the long-running debate over whether BPA, said to be an endocrine disrupter, is actually harmful in the amounts most people typically encounter.

Although some studies indicate exposure to BPA, even in small amounts, may cause reproductive, neurological and behavioral problems, other studies have shown BPA is safe in the low doses children and adults are exposed to, and that nearly all BPA consumed is rapidly excreted with no evidence of accumulation.

However, consumer confidence in BPA has vanished and Campbell’s joins a long list of companies that have already started to phase out or are planning to eliminate BPA from their packaging.

Owens said Campbell’s replacement plan has been in the works for several years. There will be no added costs to consumers.

Campbell Soup revenues last year exceeded $7.7 billion with sales to more than 100 million households in the U.S. alone.

Via Food Safety News