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Industry responses to Dateline NBC

Read the following industry responses to Dateline NBC:

General Mills:

General Mills is actively pursuing alternatives that do not incorporate BPA - and may have been the first major company to transition to a non-BPA alternative across an entire national line of business (Muir Glen tomatoes).

That said, there is no food safety issue - and food safety agencies around the world continue to support the safety of BPA.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Food Safety Authority have consistently affirmed that BPA is safe.  Health Canada addressed this question again recently, saying:  "Based on the overall weight of the evidence, the findings of the previous assessment remain unchanged and Health Canada's Food Directorate continues to conclude that current dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging uses is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and young children."

A 2011 study (see below) funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, shows that within 24 hours nearly 100 percent of ingested BPA is excreted by the body through urine.  If measured, the same would undoubtedly be true of the very low levels noted in the NBC report.

Still, we know that some consumers may prefer such alternatives, and General Mills has said that it would expect the entire industry to transition to alternatives that do not incorporate BPA as soon as viable alternatives are identified.

 

Dr. John M. Rost, Chairman, North American Metal Packaging Alliance

The North American Metal Packaging Alliance, Inc. (NAMPA) was founded in 1993 as The Inter-Industry Group for Light Metal Packaging. Its membership represents the food and beverage packaging industry.

Based on my personal experience as someone who has worked in the can manufacturing industry for 16 years, I know that epoxy resin coatings provide the best performance in protecting the food products. As a scientist, I am confident in the evaluations by FDA and food safety agencies worldwide that have confirmed BPA is safe to use in food packaging, and as a father of five, I am proud to include canned foods and beverages as part of the healthy and delicious meals served to my family every day.

NAMPA members welcome the findings from Dateline NBC’s recent experiment that once again demonstrate people’s exposure to BPA from canned foods and beverages is extremely small. The data from this limited Dateline NBC study confirm the observed pattern seen in other studies, including a recent research program that looked at urine as well as blood levels of more than 25,000 people in 19 countries, where the BPA levels observed were too low to affect the human body. The results of these studies provide further reassurance to consumers about how effective the human body is at quickly and efficiently processing and eliminating BPA from the body through urine.

The safety of metal packaged foods is of paramount importance to the canned food industry.The current best technology to protect that food utilizes BPA-based coatings to line the inside of the metal packaging. This technology allows for high temperature heat sterilization that ensures that the food is safe for consumers. In fact, according to FDA’s own records, there has not been a food-borne illness case from the failure of metal packaging in more than 37 years, which translates into trillions of cans.

BPA’s use in food packaging has been evaluated by numerous expert regulatory bodies around the world. As recently as January 30, 2013, FDA reiterated its position stating that ‘…the weight of the current research and evidence support the safety of BPA for use in food containers or packaging.’ This opinion, as well as those of Health Canada, the European Food Safety Authority, and food regulatory agencies in Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, should give consumers confidence in the safety of canned foods and beverages.

The can manufacturing industry has used BPA-epoxy resins safely for 60 years and history has shown that these coatings provide the best performance in protecting the food products for consumers. We are confident in the evaluations by FDA and food safety agencies worldwide that have confirmed BPA is safe to use in food packaging and take pride in making canned foods a central part of feeding our own families nutritious, economical, and above all, safe, meals. 

ConAgra

Given we were not involved in this test, we’re not in a position to comment on any specific findings you shared.  That very low levels of BPA found in the urine of people can be influenced by diet is not new information – there have been a number of reports to that effect published in scientific and lay literature. Regulatory agencies are aware of this information and, based upon the available scientific information, have concluded that BPA is safe for use in food packaging. In particular, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Food Safety Authority, the World Health Organization, the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology and Health Canada have all found that BPA is safe for use in food packaging applications.  And, in January of 2011 and September of 2012, the U.S. FDA and Health Canada, respectively, affirmed these assessments and once again found that foods in cans with linings that utilize BPA are safe.

BPA has been used for over 40 years to further ensure the safety and quality of food and beverages, including as a protective coatings for cans and the metal closures for glass jars. Can linings are necessary to protect public health.  Without them, interaction between the metal and the can contents over time eventually leads to corrosion and contamination of the food from dissolved metals and possible microorganisms.

Ensuring the safety of our products – and maintaining the confidence of consumers – is of great importance to us.  Product safety is the foundation of consumer trust, and we are committed to ensuring our products are safe. 

 

Del Monte 

Del Monte Foods’ top priority is the quality and safety of our products. For more than 40 years, BPA has been approved by the FDA – as well as other global regulatory agencies – for use in food contact applications, and can coatings containing BPA have played an essential part in food preservation.

Currently, the can linings of a majority of our canned food products contain trace amount of BPA. Del Monte is constantly evolving to meet the needs and preferences of our consumers. In response to growing consumer and customer preference, we are working closely with can manufacturers and suppliers to explore BPA-free can lining alternatives. In fact, we have already transitioned to BPA-free linings for some of our tomato, vegetable and fruit products where the new linings have been proven safe and effective.

Given the critical safety role that can linings play, any replacement for BPA must first pass rigorous safety and quality testing before we will accept it for use in our products.

  

The American Chemistry Council

ACC is America’s oldest trade association of its kind, representing companies engaged in the business of chemistry—an innovative, $760 billion enterprise that is helping solve the biggest challenges facing our nation and the world.

We want to provide you with the following points about the lab tests you shared with us on BPA exposures:

  • For the adult participant (NBC News' Andrea Canning), the urinary BPA values throughout the test are low and all are within the normal range reported in population scale studies conducted by CDC.
  • Although precise intakes cannot be calculated from urine spot samples, the range of values reported indicate that BPA intake throughout the test, including the so-called “pile-on” period is more than 500 times below the safe intake limit established by government bodies such as EFSA.
  • The single values reported for the three children are all lower than most of the adult values and indicate that BPA intakes for the children are all very low, likely more than 1000 times below the safe intake limit established by EFSA.

Also, in case you find it helpful we wanted to provide some information regarding the study conducted in Dr. Rissman’s lab.  That study tested a single dose of BPA that is roughly 10,000 times higher than typical human exposure -- extremely high doses, as opposed to the Teeguarten study which tested doses similar to real-life exposures in humans. The relevance of Dr. Rissman’s findings to human health is unclear.

As to the lab results you shared on Andrea’s exposures to a few phthalates, all the levels of exposure are well-below established safe limits as set by the government.  During the time Andrea subjected herself to the “cleansing” phase, the levels of exposures fell even lower, so one could draw the conclusion the levels that are of no concern at the beginning were even lower during the cleansing phase.

 

Government Reviews of Scientific Evidence

“To assess the safety of a chemical’s use, government scientists look to the full weight of all the scientific evidence, not to any one, small sample-sized study.

 “We understand it can be concerning to hear that we have traceable, miniscule exposures to chemicals from our daily lives, and that is why it is important for consumers to know that government scientists around the world review the full weight of scientific evidence when making regulatory decisions about the safe exposure levels to chemicals. As CDC explains, exposure does not equal harm.”

Weight of Scientific Evidence on BPA “Government scientific bodies around the world have come to the consensus that the scientific evidence supports the safety of BPA in food contact materials and other consumer products. These bodies include: the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology and the World Health Organization.”

Endocrine activity and BPA

“Most relevant to actual, real-world safety of BPA is the recent, robust research funded by the EPA and conducted by scientists at the government’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Food and Drug Administration. Consistent with previous human and animal studies, the Teeguarden et al. study indicates that, because of the way BPA is processed in the body, it is very unlikely that BPA could cause health effects at any realistic exposure level. Based on the study’s results, BPA human exposure levels are so low, “people’s exposure may be many times too low for BPA to effectively mimic estrogen in the human body.”

 Phthalates

“Phthalates have established a very strong safety profile during the 50 years in which they have been in general use and there is no reliable evidence that any phthalate has ever caused a health problem for a human from its intended use.  A vast body of scientific evidence shows us that phthalates break down within minutes and are quickly eliminated from the body. Scientists have now developed very sensitive tests that can find a millionth of a gram or even less of a chemical or its metabolites in blood or urine. As CDC explains in great detail, exposure does not equal harm.”

 

Colgate Palmolive 

We call your attention to the response provided to Dateline by American Cleaning Institute Feb 15 that provided comment on this topic and highlighted some potential issues with your report.

If you plan to make reference to Colgate Total, we hope you will include these facts: Colgate Total is the only toothpaste that has undergone the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s rigorous review process and the only toothpaste that is both approved by the FDA and accepted by the American Dental Association as safe and effective. The safety and effectiveness of Colgate Total is supported by more than 80 scientific studies involving 19,000 people, including a five-year clinical study completed in 2012.

 

Coca-Cola Company

Our top priority is to ensure the safety and quality of our products and packaging through rigorous standards that meet or exceed government requirements.  If we had any concerns about the safety of our packaging, we would not use it.

While we are very aware of the highly publicized concerns and viewpoints that have been expressed about BPA, our point of view is that the scientific consensus on this issue is most accurately reflected in the opinions expressed by those regulatory agencies whose missions and responsibilities are to protect the public’s health.

The consensus repeatedly stated among regulatory agencies in Australia, Canada, Europe, Germany, Japan, New Zealand and the United States is that current levels of exposure to BPA through food and beverage packaging do not pose a health risk to the general population.

Our Company will continue to take our guidance on this issue from national and international regulatory authorities, and we will take whatever steps are necessary, based on sound scientific principles, to ensure that any package technology is safe for our consumers.

 

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

FDA’s assessment is that the scientific evidence at this time does not suggest that the very low levels of human exposure to BPA, phthalates or triclosan are unsafe.  FDA is actively engaged in the scientific and regulatory review of all of these chemicals and has determined that BPA and phthalates are safe as currently used in FDA-regulated products. In addition, FDA is currently reviewing the safety of products containing triclosan. FDA will take appropriate action if scientifically valid information indicates that any of these chemicals are not safe as used in FDA-regulated products.

It is important to understand that the presence of these chemicals in urine does not necessarily translate into an adverse effect on the body.  For example, scientific studies find that BPA is rapidly metabolized and excreted in urine, and therefore its presence in urine does not mean that BPA remains in the body after ingestion.

Additional Background:

We urge Dateline to explain to their viewers that detecting a chemical in urine is only part of the story and does not fully address potential human health effects.  Dateline should clearly communicate this to their viewers to avoid misunderstandings that are not supported by the science.

BPA is found in certain food packaging materials and certain other consumer goods (e.g., compact disks). 

Phthalates are a group of chemicals that can be found in FDA-regulated products, such as certain food packaging and cosmetic products, as well as other consumer products that are regulated by other agencies. FDA’s monitoring of cosmetics on the market indicates that with the exception of diethylphthalate (DEP), phthalates are no longer commonly used as cosmetic ingredients. FDA has reviewed the safety and toxicity data for phthalates from a variety of sources, including the National Toxicology Program and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and these data have not established an association between health effects and the use of phthalates in cosmetic products.

Triclosan is an ingredient found in certain FDA-regulated products, including toothpaste, antiseptic soaps, and cosmetics. A close examination of emerging science that suggests potential new public health concerns, as well as changes in patterns of use for antiseptic products, have lead FDA to engage in a scientific and regulatory review of this ingredient. At this time, FDA does not have evidence demonstrating that the use of triclosan in FDA-regulated products should be restricted or banned.

 

American Cleaning Institute

The American Cleaning Institute® (ACI - formerly The Soap and Detergent Association) is the Home of the U.S. Cleaning Products Industry® and represents the $30 billion U.S. cleaning products market.  ACI  members include the formulators of soaps, detergents, and general cleaning products used in household, commercial, industrial and institutional settings; companies that supply ingredients and finished packaging for these products; and oleochemical producers.  ACI (www.cleaninginstitute.org) and its members are dedicated to improving health and the quality of life through sustainable cleaning products and practices

FOR RELEASE – February 15, 2013

American Cleaning Institute Response – Dateline NBC segment on Triclosan

Antibacterial ingredients, including triclosan, used in over-the-counter products like antibacterial soap are regulated under the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Tentative Final Monograph for Over-the-Counter Healthcare Antiseptic Drug Products.

FDA also has in its hands scientific data showing a distinct germ killing benefit of antibacterial soaps containing triclosan.

Additionally, agencies in the U.S. and abroad have affirmed the safety of triclosan. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completed a very thorough review of the ingredient in a 2008 regulatory decision that formally re-registered triclosan for its use in EPA-regulated products. 

Assessments of the potential impacts of triclosan on human health demonstrate that the use of triclosan in various products does not increase risks of harm, including for infants, children, and workers.

A 2012 preliminary screening assessment of triclosan by Health Canada and Environment Canada reiterated that triclosan-containing products are safe for consumers to use.

It’s regrettable that Dateline is relying upon test procedures set-up by activists who rely on junk science and publicity stunts to try and scare consumers about a safe and beneficial ingredient. The gimmicks that the representatives of Environmental Defence Canada present have been discredited by research experts in their own country (http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/columnists/story.html?id=cd7425d1-0501-40f7-a885-9910cd654a32&p=2).

In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a triclosan fact sheet summarizing findings of its national biomonitoring report, that said “finding measurable amounts of triclosan in urine does not mean that the levels of triclosan cause an adverse health effect.” (http://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/Triclosan_FactSheet.html). 

Triclosan has been – and continues to be – one of the most researched and reviewed healthcare and consumer product ingredients.  It is used safely and effectively as a part of common sense hygiene routines in homes, hospitals, doctors’ offices, day care centers, nursing homes, and countless other office and institutional settings.

Antibacterial products and their ingredients have stood the test of time through extensive research and testing. It’s unfortunate that attempts are made to distort the safety of these products and ingredients contributing to better health.

 

Campbell’s

Dateline admits in the explanation of this exercise, “we cannot say with certainty what caused the presence of those chemicals in their systems”. 

Also, your note advised that your information suggests that while Campbell’s may phase out BPA in cans in the future, that phase out has not yet begun. We’d like to correct your statement, as the phase out has begun.  We have already started using alternatives to BPA coatings for some of our metal packaging and have millions of cans in market with BPA alternatives in the lining. And we’re working to phase out the use of BPA in the linings of all of our canned products.

Just as a last point, Dateline’s reporting focuses on V8 vegetable juice consumed from a metal can.  All of our packaging is safe.  If you use a product photo please make sure it is the one that was consumed because, for consumers who want choices, we have a range of V8 products in bottles and juice boxes (aseptic cartons) that do not use BPA-based coatings.

 Our position on BPA:

BPA is widely used in metal food packaging to help preserve and protect food and maintain its nutritional value and quality. We believe that current can packaging is one of the safest options in the world. In fact, every regulatory body in the world has affirmed the safety of BPA in the levels found in canned food packaging.  Campbell has been following the conversation about BPA, and we recognize that there is ongoing debate about its use. The trust we’ve earned from consumers for over 140 years is paramount to us.  Because of this, we have already started to phase out the use of BPA in the linings of our canned products.