While most praise the company’s decision, there are concerns about how long it is taking to make the changes.
'This is good news, if rather slow in coming'
Dr Michael Warhurst, is the executive director of CHEM Trust, a UK registered charity that works at European, UK and International level to prevent man-made chemicals from causing long term damage to wildlife or humans, by ensuring chemicals which cause such harm are substituted with safer alternatives.
“This is good news if rather slow in coming,” he told FoodQualityNews.
“CHEM Trust welcomes Campbell’s move away from bisphenol A, a chemical that was first shown to be a hormone mimic in the 1930s. It’s past time for the whole food sector to replace BPA with safer alternatives - being aware that some similar chemicals are also endocrine disrupters.”
Speaking about the process of switching to BPA-free lined cans, Mark Alexander, president, Americas Simple Meals & Beverages, Campbell Soup Company, said it had been a four-year journey, with fits and starts, and there is still a lot of work to do.
“The timing of the announcement was prompted by a recent meeting we had with the Breast Cancer Fund, which plans to issue a report this week into linings and coatings used by food manufacturers,” he said.
“We have been talking to them for many years about this issue and realized we needed to be more open about the steps we are taking to move to non-BPA packaging, rather than waiting to tell consumers after we had completed the transition.
'The momentum seems to be towards its eventual removal'
“Our commitment to transparency is about being willing to have tough conversations; to being open to discussing the challenging issues facing our industry and our company; and talking about how we are addressing issues that consumers care about – even when we don’t have all the answers.”
Andrew Manly, communications director, AIPIA (Active & Intelligent Packaging Industry Association), said it was aware of the on-going debate about the continued use of BPA.
“The momentum in the industry seems to be towards its eventual removal, even though studies by FDA and ESFA have given it a clean bill of health,” he said.
“AIPIA is, of course, in favour of making all packaging safer. Given the continued debate it will be up to individual companies to make up their own minds on the use, or otherwise, of BPA. Hopefully the legislators will eventually come to a consensus on the subject.”
Jane Muncke, MD, Food Packaging Forum, Zurich, added, it should not come as a surprise consumer activists are growing impatient with brands, after 23 years.
“From a customer perspective, it’s good news that food companies are responding to consumer requests for BPA-free food packaging,” she said.
“However, the technical difficulties encountered while searching for suitable replacements show that substituting chemicals of concern is not trivial, and novel materials need to be chosen wisely.
“As this process of replacing chemicals or materials takes time, companies are best advised to proactively manage the issue of chemicals of concern by constantly monitoring new scientific developments, and actively searching for replacements before consumer activists put pressure on brands. And by staying ahead of public health concerns companies can benefit from market niches.
“In the case of BPA, scientific evidence of there being a problem with this chemical (re-)emerged since 1993.” (Krishnan, A. V., et al. (1993). "Bisphenol-A: an estrogenic substance is released from polycarbonate flasks during autoclaving." Endocrinology 132(6): 2279-2286.
Brotons, J. A., et al. (1995). "Xenoestrogens released from lacquer coatings in food cans." Environmental Health Perspectives 103(6): 608-612.)