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EWG Calls on Coca-Cola to Protect Customers from BPA

For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, June 10, 2009

WASHINGTON, -- Environmental Working Group (EWG) today called on The Coca-Cola Company’s chairman and chief executive officer Muhtar Kent to take immediate steps to reduce children’s exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), a toxic chemical used in beverage bottles and beverage can linings.

“Along with hundreds of thousands of Environmental Working Group supporters, I was very disappointed to read reports in The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Washington Post that a Coca-Cola representative joined chemical and food processing company lobbyists in a recent meeting to consider, among other things, the use of “fear tactics” to protect the market for the toxic chemical bisphenol A (BPA),” EWG’s President, Ken Cook wrote Kent.

An internal industry document obtained by journalists and EWG show that a Coca-Cola representative took part in a May 28 food and chemical industry strategy session at Washington’s exclusive Cosmos Club, during which, the document said, “Attendees suggested using fear tactics (e.g. ‘Do you want to have access to baby food anymore?’)” According to the leaked document, “Their ‘holy grail’ spokesperson would be a ‘pregnant young mother who would be willing to speak around the country about the benefits of BPA’.”

“Is this the kind of “marketing” effort that Coca-Cola stands behind when it comes to toxic chemicals that contaminate the food supply?” Cook wrote.

BPA, a synthetic estrogen, has been linked to a number of serious health conditions, including breast and prostate cancer, neurological and reproductive system disorders, diabetes and obesity – all on the rise in the U.S. in recent years. Food containers made with BPA-based plastics have been found to leach the toxic contaminant into their contents. Last March, Canadian government scientists reported detecting BPA in Coca-Cola products Coke, Diet Coke, Fresca, Barq’s Root Beer, Full Throttle Fury Energy Drink, Sprite and Tab,

The text of Mr. Cook’s letter to Kent is attached below to this release.

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EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment. http://www.ewg.org

June 10, 2009

Mr. Muhtar Kent

Chairman of the Board and CEO

The Coca-Cola Company

PO Box 1734

Atlanta, GA 30301

Dear Mr. Kent,

Along with hundreds of thousands of Environmental Working Group (EWG) supporters, I was very disappointed to read reports in The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Washington Post that a Coca-Cola representative joined chemical and food processing company lobbyists in a recent meeting to consider, among other things, the use of “fear tactics” to protect the market for the toxic chemical bisphenol A (BPA). According to minutes of that meeting, one participant proposed a media campaign around the misleading slogan: “Do you want to have access to baby food anymore?” The “holy grail,” the memo said, would be to find a pregnant woman to serve as a spokesperson to tout the benefits of BPA.

Is this the kind of “marketing” effort that The Coca-Cola Company stands behind when it comes to toxic chemicals that contaminate the food supply?

The leaked minutes depict desperate industries willing to do almost anything to avert government restrictions on the use of BPA in products for young children. The overall impression is one of callous disregard for the ample scientific evidence that BPA, known to be a synthetic estrogen since the 1930s, disrupts the endocrine system and is associated with breast and prostate cancer, neurological and reproductive system disorders and diabetes and obesity – all on the rise in the U.S. in recent years.

Scientists have repeatedly shown that BPA readily leaches out of plastic food containers into their contents. Notably, Canadian government researchers have found that BPA migrates from can linings into popular soft drinks, including numerous Coca-Cola products: Coke, Diet Coke, Fresca, Barq’s Root Beer, Full Throttle Fury Energy Drink, Sprite and Tab.

It is clear that the days of BPA in food containers designed for young children are coming to an end. The states of Minnesota and Connecticut have adopted laws to prohibit use of the chemical in products for children three and under. The California State Senate has passed a similar measure, and the city of Chicago will soon prohibit the sale of any BPA-laced products for children three and under within the city limits. Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has promised to reassess her agency’s position on low-dose exposures of BPA.

More than a decade ago, because of concerns about high levels of BPA in bioassays of teenagers and young adults, most Japanese food processing removed or dramatically reduced the use of BPA in can linings, switching to safer, less expensive PET(polyrthylene terephthalate) film lamination. As a result, a 2002 study found that BPA levels among Japanese students dropped by fully 50 percent between 1992 and 1999.

On behalf of EWG’s supporters, I strongly urge you and your company to join other major U.S. corporations like Walmart, Toys R’ Us, Nalgene and Sunoco in taking steps to reduce children’s exposure to BPA. I thank you for your consideration and look forward to your response to this request to protect millions of your customers from further exposure to a toxic chemical that poses a serious threat to public health.

Sincerely,

 

Kenneth A. Cook

President

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