Tuesday, March 6, 2012

One small step for cans, one giant leap for mankind

Campbell's Soup, the world's largest producer of canned soups, has announced that it will stop using the noxious, health-wrecking chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) in the lining of it's canned soups in the near future.

This is a big deal for a few reasons:
1. BPA is big-time, seriously bad news, folks. It's a synthetic form of the hormone estrogen and it messes with your endocrine system. It's used in many commercial applications like can linings, because it helps plastic harden and helps prevent food from coming into contact with metal (a useful goal in canning, for sure). However, it has also been shown to cause reproductive system problems, decreased brain and neurological function, cancer, cardiovascular damage, Type-2 diabetes, early puberty, obesity and even resistance to chemotherapy. So you mean we've been served a side of disease with our chicken noodle? Yup.
2. Public pressure from the supporters of organizations like Healthy Child Healthy World, Breast Cancer Action and Environmental Working Group helped make this happen. Yet another "proof point" that grassroots efforts around causes like these work and companies will listen to letter-writing campaigns, phone calls and boycotts. I probably should disclose at this point that I support all three of these organizations and applaud their efforts to make our world a healthier place.
3. If the world's largest supplier is taking this step, guess what it's competitors will start doing? Even at the global company level, it'll be a classic example of "monkey see, monkey do." Yes, I did just call them all monkeys. 

Now, this post definitively does NOT give you license to head to Costco for a pallet full of tomato soup. It'll most likely take Campbell's quite some time to implement the new manufacturing processes needed to use a BPA substitute, buy new equipment and burn through the inventory they currently have sitting on store shelves. My guess is that a complete change over won't happen for at least another year. In the meantime, buy brands that offer BPA-free can linings (my favorite is Eden Organics).

Note to my Euro-friends: no need for you to worry about BPA in soup cans (or any food packaging, for that matter), BPA has been banned here for several years.

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