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Dear CEO: It's time to reduce children's exposure to BPA

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

On June 10th, EWG's President Ken Cook wrote a letter to Coca-Cola's Chairman and CEO, Muhtar Kent, calling on him to take immediate steps to reduce children's exposure to BPA.

I thought you might like to read it - before or after you call the company yourself to reinforce his powerful words.

Together our message is louder, stronger. Speak up with us, the time has come.

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.


Kenneth A. Cook President

Pick up the phone to say it for yourself Coca-Cola: 1-800-GET-COKE, ext. 2 Del Monte: 1-800-543-3090

Sample script: "Hello, My name is ______________. I'm shocked and disappointed in your unethical approach to business when it comes to BPA - placing profits ahead of my family's health and using fear tactics to placate consumers about a clearly dangerous chemical. BPA needs to go - NOW. Thank you."

[Thanks to dan1710 on Flickr for the can image]

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