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ConAgra Foods removes BPA from all its US and Canada cans but critics ask if the alternative will be ‘safe’

By Jenny Eagle+

31-Jul-2015

ConAgra Foods removes BPA from all its US and Canada cans

ConAgra Foods claims it has removed Bisphenol A (BPA) from all of its cans sold in the US and Canada but this does not include those that are imported from abroad.

It says all of its canned foods made in its US and Canadian facilities will be packaged in cans with non-BPA liners from July 30, and it is working with the suppliers of its foreign imports to convert to non-BPA liners by early 2016.

'Working to remove BPA from its food made outside the US & Canada'

 

Wes Wasson, senior director, Packaging Technology and Cost Optimization, ConAgra Foods, told FoodProductionDaily, it is working to remove BPA from its food made outside the US and Canada.

We are confident in the safety of coatings containing BPA, but based on consumer preference have chosen to remove it across our canned food portfolio,” he said.

To make this happen, we have been working for several years to identify, test, qualify and commercialize non-BPA coatings that we are just as confident in using.

Many of our cans have been out of BPA for a while, but we waited to make a formal announcement until we could talk about our entire portfolio of food made in the US and Canada being in non-BPA cans.

Brands that may be imported to the US and still contain BPA include LaChoy Bamboo Shoots, LaChoy Water Chestnuts, some cans of Libby’s Corned Beef and Libby’s Beef and Gravy. Suppliers for these foods have either already converted to non-BPA coatings or are in the process of doing so.”

The company claims it began canning some food in non-BPA lined cans in 2010, but other foods required a different approach, due to their acidity or other characteristics. Ardagh Group began providing the firm with non-BPA cans earlier this year.

Jane Muncke, managing director, Food Packaging Forum Foundation, said she is not surprised by the announcement as several leading food companies have moved away from BPA or have announced that they will do so shortly, in response to their customer's demands.

'We are concerned about the replacements'

Other companies that claim not to use BPA include; Amy’s; Bionature; Crown Prince Seafood; Eden Foods; Farmer’s Market; Trader Joe’s; Muir Glen; Westbrae Natural and Wild Planet Foods.

ConAgra Foods products that do not now use a BPA liner include;

Hunt's tomatoes
Hunt's Manwich sloppy joe sauce
Reddi-wip whipped cream
RO*TEL tomatoes and green chilies
Van Camp’s beans
Libby’s sausages and corned beef
Wolf Brand Chili
Ranch Style Beans
Dennison’s chili
Chef Boyardee canned pasta
PAM cooking spray

We are concerned about the replacements though, if they are not thoroughly tested for safety, including endocrine disruption of the monomers and reaction by-products,” she said.

For example, some coatings are now made with BPS that is toxicologically similar to BPA though it likely migrates less. But what are the common reaction by-products in BPS-based coatings?

How do they migrate? And are they estrogenically active, like BPA and BPS? So there are still open questions surrounding the replacements.”

ConAgra Foods says the cans are made in facilities using technology that uses different coating systems using polyester or acrylic materials that do not contain BPA.

We are working to convert all of our facilities to non-BPA lined cans by early 2016 based on consumer demand. We are currently working with those local suppliers on testing and implementation and have already made progress,” added Wasson.

Dr Michael Warhurst, executive director, CHEM Trust, agreed with Muncke and said it welcomes the fact another major food manufacturer is moving away from Bisphenol A but it’s time that EU regulators - and other companies got BPA out of all their food packaging.

One issue though is whether companies are moving to very similar chemicals such as BPS and BPF; the ConAgra announcement implies they have changed the formulation more substantially though.”

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