The Breast Cancer Fund is about to launch a campaign against kids’ canned food. Parents on a budget, who are told to take fast food off their children’s diet plans, now must contend with the canned food police. In this case, the Breast Cancer Fund has a new report warning consumers about toxic levels of bisphenol A, or BPA in the lining on canned children’s foods. Thanks to the Environmental Protection Agency, BPA is the new scary chemical that is on the verge of being eradicated from all food and beverage packaging:
There is a toxic chemical lurking in your child’s Campbell’s Disney Princess soup, in her Chef Boyardee pasta with meatballs, even in her organic Annie’s cheesy ravioli. It’s called bisphenol A, or BPA, and you won’t find it on any ingredient label. This chemical, which is hormonally active and has been linked in laboratory studies to breast cancer and a host of other health concerns, is in the lining of food cans. What’s meant to be a protective barrier between the metal and the can’s contents actually contains this toxic chemical, which leaches into the food and is then consumed by adults and children alike.
In order to bring more attention to the problem of BPA in canned food, and to highlight the particular dangers BPA poses to children, the Breast Cancer Fund tested canned foods marketed to and consumed by children for the presence of BPA. Every food sample tested positive for BPA, with Campbell’s Disney Princess and Toy Story soups testing the highest.
There should be no place for toxic chemicals linked to breast cancer and other serious health problems in our children’s food. You may be familiar with BPA-free baby bottles and sports water bottles, but there is no widely available BPA-free option for canned food. That’s why the Breast Cancer Fund has launched the “Cans Not Cancer” campaign—to convince canned food manufacturers to replace BPA with a safer alternative.
Our Cans Not Cancer campaign is about our health, our children’s health, and a safer future in which breast cancer rates have dropped because we’ve reduced our exposure to toxic chemicals.
Washington D.C.’s Competitive Enterprise Institute challenged these findings at OpenMarket.org saying, the campaign is part of an “irrational anti-chemical campaign to rid the world of a very valuable chemical.”:
BPA makes transparent, polycarbonate plastics exceptionally strong and resistant to breakage and to relatively high heat. It is remarkably durable and easily sterilized, making it well suited for reuse and recycling and medical applications. BPA is also used to make resins and coatings that are suitable for application to a wide range of surfaces at a wide range of temperatures. As a result, it helps prevent corrosion and increases product durability. Its application in food packaging — lining aluminum and steel cans for example — not only reduces food waste, it prevents the development of dangerous contamination and pathogens in the food supply, providing a key public safety benefit.
The Breast Cancer Fund study should raise eyebrows about the group issuing it–whose name belies its real agenda. The Fund is not designed to offer useful and constructive help for breast cancer sufferers or even help find a cure. It is designed to use legitimate concerns about breast cancer risk to generate fears and advance a misguided anti-chemical agenda. They state the mission as working “to connect the dots between breast cancer and exposures to chemicals and radiation in our everyday environments.”
But the link between chemicals and breast cancer is not significant. Check out the description of risk factors on the American Cancer Society website, which lists the main known risk factors as related to such things as genetics, overeating, tobacco, and delayed childbearing. Chemicals are low on the list of possible risk factors, with the Society noting: “at this time research does not show a clear link between breast cancer risk and exposure to these substances.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, is said to announce the findings of the Breast Cancer Fund. Senator Feinstein spoke with me on Tuesday evening about her own legislation that will ban BPA in children’s food and beverage containers.
“I have a BPA bill…bisphenol A is in the blood of 93 percent of the people in the nation. Its an endocrine disruptor and young children, particularly babies, are vulnerable.”
She added, “What we’ve been trying to do is get it out of infant formula, baby bottles, and sippy cups. It lines tin cans. Its a shelf extender, so the supermarket industry loves them, because they keep goods on the shelf longer in tin cans. The FDA bill had an agreement with ranking member Enzi to remove it from baby bottles and sippy cups and the chemical industry objected.”
According to the BPA bill Feinstein introduced in January, the legislation:
Bans the use of BPA in children’s feeding products including baby bottles, sippy cups, baby food, and infant formula (largely because infants and children are the most vulnerable to the harmful effects of BPA)
.Requires the FDA to issue a revised safety assessment on BPA by December 1, 2012
.Includes a savings clause to allow states to enact stronger legislation.
“So we tried to get it by unanimous consent and the senator objected and we couldn’t. So we tried again and again and again,” Feinstein said. “I have been writing letters just individually to the big CEO’s of the big bottling companies….beer, food that kind of thing making them aware [that] increasingly science is finding it harmful.”
The California Democrat said that supermarkets like Target and Walmart are already “voluntarily” removing sippy cups and baby bottles that contain BPA within the lining of the food and beverage packaging.
CEI argues that the supermarkets were likely pressured to remove the products containing BPA:
The list promises to become little more than a blacklist — prompting companies to eliminate “chemicals of concern” to avoid bad press. In fact, when EPA announced this program, Costco, Walmart, and Target all stated to the press that the list will impact their purchasing decisions, causing them to reduce and perhaps eliminate products containing listed chemicals.
Not surprisingly, EPA has also proposed that listed chemicals become part of the agency’s efforts under its “Design for the Environment” program — a “voluntary initiative” that encourages (i.e., pressures) companies to reduce and eliminate the use of certain chemicals. Thus far, EPA’s proposal to list BPA is pending review at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
I asked Senator Feinstein about the effect of her bill on supermarkets’ bottom lines given the regulation aspect of it. “Well, we’re not there yet. We’re still just with infants and babies, and I have to take the first step, because we want the FDA to test it. That’s going to take time.
The California Democrat made it clear the FDA has not made any findings on BPA as of now, but she wanted to put her bill forward given the length of time it takes for the FDA to move on issues and items.
“The FDA has not made a finding [on BPA.] We’re asking them to. This is in the meantime. The FDA takes a long time.” She later added, “I’ve come to a conclusion, that the less chemicals we ingest, the better we are.”
“I think we have to be careful, because in this country a chemical is used until the FDA finds it harmful. In Europe, there’s something called the “Pre-cautionary Standard” and companies have to prove that chemicals they use are benign. That’s not true here.”