The food giant recently caused a stir after announcing some of its products already on the market were in BPA-free cans and that it was working to rid all its food containers of the substance.
BPA is an industrial chemical used in the manufacture of epoxy linings in food and beverage cans. The substance has been linked to a number of health hazards including cancer and heart disease and its continued inclusion in packaging is a subject of growing consumer concern. However, all the major global food safety authorities declare it poses no health hazard in packaging.
Campbell said it had taken the decision to stop using BPA as a result of this public debate but has declined to put a deadline on when it expects to finish the process.
However a source close to the firm told this publication that Campbell had already made significant progress towards sourcing, testing and incorporating alternatives to the controversial chemical into its can lines.
“I understand that Campbell has been working closely with its can suppliers for a number of years and is estimating that the full switch to BPA-alternatives will come about before 2015,” said the insider with direct knowledge of the situation.
The company is believed to have waited before announcing the move until it had made major advances, so that when it did, progress would be rapid enough to meet consumer expectations.
In the millions
FoodProductionDaily.com contacted Campbell Soup Co but the company said it could not provide a specific timeframe.
“We are already producing cans with alternatives to BPA and plan to continue this for particular products as safe alternatives become available,” said Anthony J. Sanzio, group director corporate and brand communications. “These alternatives are safe and comply with international food contact regulations.”
The company produces billions of cans annually, with its BPA-free containers on the market currently numbered in the millions, he added.
Different linings for different products
Sanzio explained the challenge was a complex one and that different linings would likely be required for different products.
“Separate linings may be needed for individual varieties of soups because of the different ingredients in each, which may react differently with the lining of the container,” he said. “But while it is a complex challenge, we are working with our can suppliers to address it and we are up to the task.”
The communications director said there were no plans to put labels on cans to indicate which were BPA-free and which were not.
“We are convinced the current [BPA] can technology is one of the safest in the world,” said Sanzio. “We have looked at what is right for our business and are in favour of phasing out of BPA. From a consumer point of view both the current and alternative linings are safe.”