Although it maintains that the bisphenol A (BPA) in its cans is safe, the Campbell Soup Company says it has already switched to alternatives in some packaging as it ends the use of the controversial chemical.
The Camden, NJ-based food giant announced the move in a recent conference call with financial analysts. Craig Owens, Campbell’s senior vice president, chief financial and administrative officer, said the company thinks BPA is safe, but is nevertheless reacting to public concern.
“The trust we’ve earned from our consumers for over 140 years is paramount for us,” Owens said.
The decision was hailed by the Breast Cancer Fund (BCF) as a victory for consumers. But the group called on Campbell’s to disclose its timeline for the phase-out and reveal the alternatives it will use.
Last year, after the BCF tested 12 canned food products popular for children, it announced that the Campbell foods had the four highest levels of BPA. As part of a “Cans Not Cancer” campaign, the group said more than 70,000 letters were sent to Campbell urging the company to stop using BPA in its packaging.
BPA is a chemical, used in the epoxy resin that coats cans to protect against spoilage. The concern is that BPA can leach into the food or beverage.
Campbell’s decision is the latest step in the long-running debate over whether BPA, said to be an endocrine disrupter, is actually harmful in the amounts most people typically encounter.
Although some studies indicate exposure to BPA, even in small amounts, may cause reproductive, neurological and behavioral problems, other studies have shown BPA is safe in the low doses children and adults are exposed to, and that nearly all BPA consumed is rapidly excreted with no evidence of accumulation.
However, consumer confidence in BPA has vanished and Campbell’s joins a long list of companies that have already started to phase out or are planning to eliminate BPA from their packaging.
Owens said Campbell’s replacement plan has been in the works for several years. There will be no added costs to consumers.
Campbell Soup revenues last year exceeded $7.7 billion with sales to more than 100 million households in the U.S. alone.