Bisphenol A, better known as BPA, is in the news again. The endocrine disrupting chemical that has been linked in study after study to infertility, early onset puberty, destruction of sperm, genetic defects, breast cancer and a host of other ills has found a supporter in none other than Coca-Cola.
Soda can liners are loaded with BPA and consumers are increasingly worried about it. In fact, 26% of Coca-Cola’s shareholders recently approved a resolution to remove BPA from the company’s soda cans. Typically, resolutions with as little as 10% support receive quick action from most companies.
So, what’s with all the foot dragging?
Muhtar Kent, CEO of Coca-Cola, claimed that the “science just isn’t there” to justify a shift away from BPA and claimed that if the company “had any doubt” about the safety of its packaging that BPA would no longer be used.
What planet is this guy living on? Certainly not the one I’m on where 1 in 7 Caucasian girls and 1 in 2 African American girls are developing breasts by age 8! The problems don’t end there but continue for decades as girls with early onset puberty have a higher risk of breast cancer later in life.
And it’s not just high exposure that causes problems. Even very low levels of BPA have been found to destroy sperm as shown in a five year trial on the effects of BPA on the human male. Chinese workers with low exposure to BPA suffered from a 400% increased risk of low sperm count and twice the likelihood for reduced sperm motility.
There are numerous objective studies which point to the endocrine disrupting dangers of BPA, but Coca-Cola seems to put most credence in the single study that found BPA to be safe.
Not surprisingly, this study was conducted by researchers with strong ties to the chemical industry.
Is BPA Another “New Coke” Miscalculation?
Could it be that Coke is afraid to admit there is a problem with the packaging of its cans as this could open them up to a slew of lawsuits from folks who have hormone problems and drink a lot of Coke?
If so, this strategy is sure to backfire as other companies are recognizing the risks and taking steps to ensure their packaging is BPA free. Even Heinz and General Mills are launching BPA free product lines.
Remember years ago when Coca-Cola launched New Coke? The negative outcry from consumers caused the company to scramble and within months, Coke Classic was reintroduced – the original flavor formulation. This huge business error cost the company millions in lost revenue and was arguably the worst business decision ever made by the soda manufacturer.
Refusing to remove BPA from its cans and sticking its corporate head in the sand could eventually prove just as devastating as consumers come to realize that saving face and making money with cheap, toxic packaging is more important to Coca-Cola than the well being and desires of consumers – even its own shareholders.
Source: Why Coca-Cola Isn’t Ditching BPA
A Survey of BPA in US Canned Foods
New Plastic Chemical Study Linked to Industry
I’m with Melissa…If people don’t care about the negative health issues that result from drinking soda, then they won’t care about the consequences of using products containing BPA. If they happen to stumble upon the concept of eating traditional foods, that will certainly remedy both issues! I guess Coca-Cola figures “why bother?”
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
I don’t agree Jenna. I think Coke customers DO care which is why 26% of the shareholders voted for a BPA free soda can liner. Just because someone drinks Coke doesn’t mean he/she is indifferent to his/her health. I know plenty of folks who drink Coke occasionally and it is their one bad habit and they would be thrilled of Coke cared enough to fix their toxic packaging.
My DH and I attend all of the local high school wrestling matches during the winter months, because both of our sons participated in this sport when they were still in school, and now that they’ve graduated we feel bereft if we don’t have some way to help support the school. So we go to the matches and occasionally have a pop from the concession stand (fundraising stuff). We like an occasional coke and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that; we aren’t living on the stuff. To say that those of us who occasionally indulge don’t care, Jenna L., is tantamount to saying that we are careless people. Not so. My DH was an EMT/firefighter for years, I provide infant daycare to special needs children, we both volunteer in various organizations around town and we both study ethnobotany. We certainly do care about our own health, as well as the health of our community and nation. It isn’t as cut and dried as just not drinking a can of pop now and then.
Vancouver Nutritionist via Facebook
I suppose Coca-Cola just figures that their products are already so poisonous that a little BPA doesn’t really matter. As long as they can get their customers addicted, it doesn’t matter what’s being served or what it’s being served in. All they are concerned about is profit.
Kim Lambrecht via Facebook
Sherri DuPriest Hooks via Facebook
I agree Carma… if your drinking this crap the can is the LEAST of your problems.
Melissa @ Dyno-mom
I was so angry when I read this! But it is not like I even buy Coke, so boycotting it would be a moot point. The difficulty is getting their consumers to care, consumers who are already all to pleased to pay for carmel coloring, HFCS, and BPA. I am glad that you put this up so that perhaps Coke users will see it.
I think you hit the proverbial nail on the head — the status quo’s interest is in protecting the status quo, and a big factor in cases like this is not admitting things that they think could make them liable.
Speaking of BPA, I wonder if storing any type of liquid (stock, milk, etc.) in zip-lock bags has been shown to leach it (or other bad chemicals) into the food. I think I’ve seen info at EWG and elsewhere about hard plastic containers and can linings, but what about bags? And are all zip bags created equally?
Carma L Coleman via Facebook
It is just me, or is it ironic that consumers/customers want a healthy bottle for this product??? [insert head scratching]
Lori Smart via Facebook
They’re prpbably aware that the product IN the bottle is more harmful than the bottle itself, so the bottle can be blamed when people get sick from consuming theirproduct.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Yes, we don’t drink Coke (or any sodas except the occasional natural ones from the healthfood store) either .. but it just provides more proof that big companies don’t give a rip about their consumers even when they are shareholders. For those reading this blog who are on the fence about Real Food or still have a closet habit of drinking soda perhaps, this info is valuable.
It bothers me, but doesn’t affect me. We don’t drink soda or any beverage that comes in a can. I’m even shying away from healthy foods packaged in plastics or other storage containers that may contain BPA, such as kefir, although I’m not thrilled that I have to strain my kefir through a plastic strainer. I’m trying to find a wooden one.