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Consumer Reports stirs up BPA hornet's nest

Consumer Reports publishes test results disproving Bisphenol-A's safety for use with canned foods, and industry groups are abuzz.
FILED IN:  Applications  > Beverage  > Drinks  > Juice
A test recently conducted by Consumer Reports concluded that Bisphenol-A can be found in a diverse assortment of canned foods at levels from "trace amounts to about 32 parts per billion." After studying the contents of 19 name-brand canned foods, Consumer Reports announced early this week that not only did it find BPA in leading brands of canned vegetables, soups, and juices, but also in canned products labeled "organic" and "BPA-free."

In an unsettling conclusion, the study states: "Children eating multiple servings per day of canned foods with BPA levels comparable to the ones we found in some tested products could get a dose of BPA approaching levels that have caused adverse effects in several animal studies."

Once this news hit the wires, industry groups were quick to counter with rebuttals. Said Steven G. Hentges, Ph.D., of the Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), in a statement on behalf of ACC, "The recommendations from Consumer Reports' unnamed experts are inconsistent with the conclusions of expert regulatory bodies worldwide, all of which have confirmed that BPA exposure levels are low and well within safety standards."

From the North American Metal Packaging Alliance (NAMPA) came a statement on the life-or-death importance of BPA. Said NAMPA chairman Dr. John Rost, "BPA-based epoxy coatings in metal packaging provide real, important, and measurable health benefits by reducing the potential for the serious and often deadly effects from food-borne illnesses."

Until recently, the battle around BPA has centered primarily around plastic baby bottles and other plastic containers used for food targeted at babies and toddlers. Some states have in fact banned the use of the coating in such products. But the issue has not yet become a federal concern.

At the end of this month, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration  is expected to reveal the results of its re-assessment of the safety of BPA for food contact use.

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