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Tell Del Monte: No more BPA!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Several months ago, EWG helped break news of a secret meeting convened at a fancy private club in Washington, where lobbyists from the chemical industry and food companies hatched a plot to mislead consumers about the risks of bisphenol-A (BPA), a toxic chemical used in many food containers.

EWG's online community was outraged. We urged you to call two of the companies represented by name in the memo to denounce this deceptive campaign: Coke and Del Monte.

You did, and one company, Coca-Cola, responded. As for the other company? No word yet from Del Monte on the food and chemical lobby's anti-consumer campaign. Help us keep the pressure on Del Monte by calling now to demand no more BPA in its products.

Coke Disavows Industry "Fear Tactics" In mid-July, four Coca-Cola executives traveled from Atlanta to EWG's Washington headquarters to discuss the BPA issue in a two-hour meeting. They came to discuss issues EWG President Ken Cook had raised in a June 10 letter to Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company.

They reiterated what Rhona Applebaum, the company's Vice President and Chief Scientific and Regulatory Officer, had written in a letter to Ken a few weeks earlier:

"The Coca-Cola company wants you to understand that it absolutely disavows any use of 'fear tactics' or any misleading marketing efforts regarding BPA, and would not support any effort by others to do so. The Company believes that consumers should be informed accurately to allow them to make knowledgeable choices."

While the Coca-Cola executives made clear that they differ with EWG on the science of BPA and have concluded based on available evidence that the material is safe as used in packaging for its products, they are interested in hearing more about our views about emerging research on BPA and other chemicals used in packaging. Coca-Cola has not found a substitute for BPA that meets its packaging needs, but will continue to assess alternatives -- as we're urging it to do.

We agreed to continue our conversation with the company on a range of issues beyond BPA, including science and policy matters pertaining to packaging ingredients, bottled water, and ambitious efforts underway within the company to reduce its energy use, environmental impacts, and carbon footprint.

We feel the discussion was robust and candid, and we welcome Coca-Cola's principled stand against consumer deception regarding BPA. We look forward to further discussions.

No more fear tactics, please As you may recall, this internal memo from the secret Industry meeting suggested the companies use "fear tactics," like falsely warning new parents, "Do you want to have access to baby food anymore?" The Industry representatives discussed "focusing on the impact of BPA bans on minorities (Hispanic and African American) and poor."

And then there was this brainstorm: recruit as "the 'holy grail' spokesperson a 'pregnant young mother who would be willing to speak around the country about the benefits of BPA'" -- a chemical many scientists consider toxic in utero to developing babies.

Finally, the lobbyists recommended "befriending people that are able to manipulate the legislative process," singling out for attack pending legislation EWG is sponsoring in California that would restrict BPA in sippy cups and infant formula containers.

We're fighting back. Help us turn up the heat on Del Monte. Keep the pressure on Del Monte to stand up against these outrageous industry tactics and get BPA out of Del Monte products. Call now to demand an end to unethical marketing tactics and to the use of BPA in Del Monte's products.

Together, we are holding companies accountable and making our voices heard. [Thanks to Flickr and iateapie for the canned peaches pic]

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