A host of packaging and food giants have been condemned by a leading US law official for apparently plotting to use deceptive and illegal fear tactics to blur the truth about the dangers of bisphenol A (BPA).
Richard Blumenthal, attorney general for Connecticut, has demanded details from a high-level meeting held in Washington DC last month where “an apparent campaign to use fear tactics, political manipulation and misleading marketing to fight regulation of bisphenol A” was discussed.
Letter to industry
Blumenthal warned that a misinformation campaign could threaten public health by confusing consumers and convincing them to ignore mounting scientific evidence that BPA, even in minute doses, endangers children and pregnant women.
In a letter to key industry players including Crown Packaging Corp, Alcoa, Del Monte Foods, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Coca-Cola, and the North American Metal Packaging Alliance, Blumenthal called on them to condemn any operation to mislead the public.
The attorney general, who was the proponent and advocate of a new law in Connecticut that limits the use of BPA in infant bottles, said he was disturbed by reports of the campaign. He said alleged plans to use a pregnant women to front a publicity drive for BPA would be, if proven true, “astonishing and appalling in light of mounting scientific evidence about the dangers of BPA, especially to children”.
Scientific evidence increasing
In letters to these companies, Blumenthal wrote that he was particularly disturbed by reports of the meeting indicating that Connecticut and California would be targeted.
“This effort seeking to 'manipulate the legislative process' and public opinion raises significant ethical and policy questions as well as legal issues,” he said.
The attorney general said there was increasing credible science linking BPA to range of diseases including cancer, diabetes, hyperactivity, obesity, low sperm count, miscarriage and other reproductive problems in laboratory animals, as well as heart disease and diabetes in humans.
Campaign of ‘confusion and concealment’
Blumenthal said: "Colluding in a campaign of confusion and concealment - potentially endangering children and pregnant women - is appalling and possibly illegal. We are demanding details about industry giants plotting to use deceptive, and possibly illegal, tactics to blur the truth about BPA dangers.
"I am calling on these companies to disavow this unconscionable campaign to deliberately deceive the public, and instead commit to educating and protecting our citizens."
Industry focuses on scientific evidence
However the Grocers Manufacturers Association (GMA) said it did not know of any such campaign, adding the body was focused on the scientific evidence relating to the safety of the substance.
Brian Kennedy, GMA director of communications, told FoodProductionDaily.com: “The Grocery Manufacturers Association is unaware of any marketing effort as described by Connecticut’s attorney general. FDA is currently reviewing its safety assessment of BPA. GMA member companies rely on regulatory determinations that packaging with BPA is safe and our industry welcomes FDA’s thorough review of all of the scientific evidence.”
The North American Metal Packaging Alliance (NAMPA) echoed the need to take note of scientific data and the necessity to convey this effectively to the public. It has previously rejected the allegations over the meeting of May 28 as “blatantly inaccurate and fabricated”.
"The North American Metal Packaging Alliance, Inc. has the utmost interest in the science related to BPA and the public health, which is exactly why our members are continually discussing ways to more effectively communicate the full scientific facts,” a spokesperson told FoodProductionDaily.com.
“We emphatically support the many global scientific reviews that have consistently concluded that BPA is safe for food contact applications and are fully cooperating with the State of Connecticut's and Congress' inquiries."