Last week, the Atlantic published a great piece outlining how industry lobbyists and trade groups are using bad science to make consumers question the toxicity of BPA. The day after the Breast Cancer Fund released our report, BPA in Kids’ Canned Food, the lobbying arm of the canned food industry was spinning science in their own press release touting the safety of BPA in consumer goods. These lobbyists claim that BPA is flushed through our bodies so fast that it can’t do any harm.
Don’t we wish it were that simple! Independent, academic scientists are furious over this “spin zone” of bad science. It turns out that a single study is prompting canned food lobbyists to claim a slam-dunk victory on the safety of BPA, while leading researchers in the field say the study design is fatally flawed for a litany of reasons.
Here’s the bottom line, though: we shouldn’t have to be scientists or toxicologists to go to the grocery store and be confident that the food we are buying doesn’t contain toxic chemicals that have been shown in over 250 laboratory studies to cause harm. As a consumer, I want to know that companies are protecting my health before their bottom line and I also want to know that my concerns as a purchaser of products are being heard by companies.
After we released our report last week, we watched social networking sites, blogs and media stories light up with canned food manufacturers responding to consumer outrage. While some companies responded openly and honestly, others continue to stand behind old science and outdated regulations to argue the safety of BPA in canned foods.
In reality, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains a list of more than 3,000 chemicals and other substances that are approved for use in food packaging. More than two-thirds of them were approved under a process that began in 1958, including known or suspected reproductive toxins and carcinogens like BPA and formaldehyde. That’s why countries including France, China, Denmark, Sweden and 10 states in the U.S. aren’t basing their decisions to regulate BPA on current regulations, but instead are using the 200-plus independent lab studies that have come out in the past 10 years showing the negative health consequences of BPA exposure.
It’s time for corporations to stop hiding behind legal speak and own up to the fact that the way our regulatory system allows chemicals to get into consumer goods is broken. That’s why on top of consumer actions to tell companies that we think BPA needs to be out of their products, we need to support legislation like Rep. Edward Markey’s (D, Mass.) bill, the Ban Poisonous Additives Act, which would overhaul the way the FDA approves chemicals used in food containers.
As we say at the Breast Cancer Fund, we need to stop this disease before it starts. Changing the way we regulate toxic chemicals in our food supply is a great step in achieving that goal.