Major brands including Hain Celestial, H.J. Heinz, ConAgra, and General Mills received an “A” grade for working to eliminate the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in food can linings, while others including Coca-Cola, Del Monte, Kraft and Wal-Mart, failed to keep pace with the industry leaders and received “F” scores, according to a new study from Green Century Capital Management and As you Sow.
The report, “Seeking Safer Packaging 2010,” indicates that some companies in the food and beverage industry are wasting no time in transitioning out of bisphenol A (BPA) can linings. Altogether, 14 companies received passing grades of A, B, C, or D, yet almost as many received grades of F. Delhaize Group, Hershey Co., Hormel, and Sysco refused to respond to the survey.
This is a significant change from last year’s report, which found that companies were not taking sufficient action to eliminate BPA. In 2009, only 7 percent of the companies surveyed had timelines for phasing out BPA from packaging. This year, 32 percent of companies have timelines.
Hain Celestial, H.J. Heinz, and ConAgra all received “A” grades for using BPA-free can linings for some products and for also providing an estimated timeline to eliminate the chemical from all product packaging. General Mills, which received a B+, has committed to eliminating BPA from its Muir Glen line of canned tomatoes but did not provide an internal timeline for implementing substitutes for the remainder of its product lines.
BPA is currently used in the epoxy linings of many canned foods and beverages, hard plastic products and thermal receipt paper.
Denmark and France have restricted use of BPA, and Canada recently designated it as a “toxic chemical,” while Germany have warned consumers to avoid it, report the authors.
In a response to shareholder concerns last year, BPA manufacturer Sunoco now has a policy to not sell BPA to customers whose products might expose infants and small children to the chemical, say researchers.
In March 2009, the six largest makers of baby bottles announced they would stop manufacturing baby bottles in the United States made with BPA.
In August 2008, the FDA said BPA was safe, but agreed two months later that due to concerns raised in some studies that additional research would be needed.