body’s anger over claims of BPA whitewash campaign
of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/Industry-body-s-anger-over-claims-of-BPA-whitewash-campaign
By Rory Harrington, 01-Jun-2009
The North American Metal Packaging
Alliance (NAMPA) has condemned reports that it was involved in a top level
meeting to revamp the image of bisphenol A (BPA) by using a pregnant woman
to talk about the benefits of the substance.
The US industry association was responding to an article in the
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel which claimed NAMPA attended a summit with
executives and lobbyists at an exclusive club in Washington DC last week to
discuss a strategy to present their case for the continued use of the
chemical, which has already been banned from baby bottles in Canada and
parts of the US.
A memo claiming to be a summary record of the five-hour meeting said
a pregnant woman would be the “Holy Grail” to act as a spokesperson
for any publicity drive to reassure consumers over BPA. Delegates also said
it would be difficult to find a scientist to front the campaign as any
studies funded by the industry are received with skepticism by the media,
according to the report.
A BPA ban would also hit the poor and ethnic minorities because such
groups were more likely to eat canned food was another tactic said to be
outlined by the attendees. Members would attempt to place positive stories
emphasizing the benefits of BPA in preventing food contamination.
NAMPA has reacted by criticizing this and a string of other reports
in the media that have questioned the use of BPA, which is used to make
hard, clear plastics for food containers, dental sealants and the sealants
that line food and beverage cans. Disquiet has focused on the possible
effects of BPA leaching into food, particularly when the containers are
The group said the media had “failed to accurately portray the
scientific review process and conclusions of public health authorities
around the world who have reaffirmed time and time again that this chemical
does not present a health risk”.
In accusing the media of selectively reporting only negative
findings, NAMPA said: “Instead of informing people that BPA’s use in
metal packaging is critical to protecting food contents from
microbiological contamination by enabling high temperature sterilization,
the implication is that BPA serves no useful purpose.”
Companies that use and make metal cans are perplexed about why the
media ignore scientific risk assessment on the safety of BPA, it said.
NAMPA dismissed the memo as “blatantly inaccurate and
fabricated”. In defending the rationale behind the meeting, the body
said: “Should it come as a surprise that our industry seeks to defend
the legitimate scientific process that has concluded BPA is safe to use in
food contact applications? Should it be viewed as a scandal that the
accumulated frustration of the industry leads to consideration of alternative
means of communication? We think not.”
The issue is a highly contentious one. While the US Food and Drug
Administration and the European Food Safety Authority have said that BPA is
safe, a number of studies in the past 20 yeas have linked the chemical to a
range of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and
hyperactivity. Bills to ban it have been introduced in Congress and in
several states including California and Maine.