by Marion Nestle
Oct 29 2010

Bisphenol A disappearing from packaging

According to, a new report says that consumer concerns are driving companies to take bisphenol A (BPA) out of their packaging.  BPA, you may recall from previous posts, is an estrogen disrupting chemical in plastic containers and the linings of food cans.  Although the harm it causes is not well established, many groups have been working to get rid of it on the theory that estrogen disruption is not a good idea.

The USA Today account says

Some retailers say they’re working hard to go BPA-free. Last year, only 7% of companies had timeliness to phase out BPA. This year, 32% have set timelines, the report says. Most large baby bottle makers already have stopped using BPA.

It quotes the author of the report as saying that consumers are “voting with their shopping carts….This is definitely a story about consumers having a lot of power with the big companies….Investors and shareholders have a big impact, as well.”

In other words, getting BPA out of plastics is good for business.

And sometimes, consumer choice really works.

  • B. Koch

    But what is it being replaced with? When lead was removed from children’s jewelry it was cadmium. Just as poisonious.

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  • B. Koch, my sentiments exactly. I’m beginning to think that to truly minimize risk, one must avoid plastic altogether.

    Kinda reminds me of how food companies responded to consumers’ concern about trans fat by replacing it with interesterified fats, which might be even worse.

  • Pete

    Or how they replaced saturated animal fat with vegetable and soy bean oil. 😉

  • Cathy Richards

    Power to the people. At least when the masses are moving in the right direction.

  • While I’m no fan of BPA, I really wish someone would thoroughly test it and give quantifiable data showing that it is or is not safe. Let’s face it – BPA is cheap. If it’s safe, that means it could help people of limited resources access better quality preserved (canned) foods.

    On the other hand, if it isn’t safe, it means that the wealthy will benefit from changes in the market and the most vulnerable will still be exposed, or will have to pay more for food they struggle to buy now.

    The FDA should really require testing to prove all applications of BPA will not negatively impact public health.

  • Anthro

    I’m with Mr. Hayes on this. What good is consumer “choice” if the choice is not based on solid science?

    I avoid ALL plastic, especially food packaging. This has made it almost impossible to find ketchup, mustard, and honey, to name a few. I have to shop around for boutique brands and pay substantially more, especially in the case of honey. I take containers with me to delis (which I rarely use) and I ask if the containers they are using are “1” or “2” (the only ones we can recycle here); then I give my lecture about: REDUCE, REUSE, (then) Recycle. Then I tell them that there are compostable containers available and that I am more likely to shop there again if they order and use these products. I’m sure they are much relieved when I am gone, but too bad–someone has to let them know. Many places I go, the staff are oblivious to what number is on the bottom of their plastic food containers and some even seem to appreciate the information I offer.

  • Lorrieena

    I avoid nearly all plastic in my home. The plastic that is used, is re-used as long as possible and then recycled.

    As for canned foods, I have a pressure-canner to can my own, or I buy food in glass jars. Our food budget is a bit higher but it shows in our health. I realize there is still some BPA in the canning and jar lids (till I buy the re-useable canning lids) but I still consider that a large reduction in exposure.

  • There’s no question that BPA is poison but it’s not the only toxic substance found in plastic. I agree with Jennifer. It’s best to avoid plastics altogether.

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