Growing opposition to BPA among consumers pushing companies to stop using chemical in can linings, shift to alternatives like pouches; FDA slated to decide by March 31 if BPA is safe for food, beverage packaging

LOS ANGELES , March 29, 2012 () –

Ahead of a decision by U.S. regulators on the safety of bisphenol A (BPA) in food and beverage packaging, consumer pressure is causing some companies to stop using the chemical, reported Bloomberg News on March 29.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is slated to complete its reassessment of BPA and determine if it should be banned from food and beverage packaging by March 31. Douglas Karas, an FDA spokesperson, declined to comment.

If BPA, which is used in can linings, is outlawed immediately, it would hurt the US$60-billion can industry. This includes can makers such as Silgan Holdings Inc., Ball Corp. and Crown Holdings Inc., said Ghansham Panjabi, an industry analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co., Bloomberg reported.

Campbell Soup Co. and HJ Heinz Co. are two food producers that have already taken steps to eliminate BPA in their food packaging rather than wait for regulators to act.

At ConAgra Foods Inc., BPA has been removed from some Hunt’s tomato products and alternatives are being sought for other lines, said company spokesperson Teresa Paulsen.

The moves by Campbell and Heinz are seen as a reaction to a shift in consumer preferences in the wake of growing concerns about possible health risks from BPA.

“Over time, we will see a decline in the use of cans,” said Alexia Howard, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, reported Bloomberg.

Last year, young people and households with children ages two and younger were the least likely to buy canned soup, according to research by Howard, who lowered her forecast for Campbell due to the continued drain on revenue from BPA concerns.

Plastic pouches, which are more appealing to younger consumers, are one BPA-free alternative that are increasingly being used to package foods, said Howard, Bloomberg reported.

Demand also is on the upswing for Cytec Industries Inc.’s saturated polyester used in BPA-free can linings, said company spokesperson Jodi Allen.

Beverage makers Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc., however, have not moved to switch to BPA-free alternatives.

BPA is safe to use in food packaging, according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, a Washington-based industry group, reported Bloomberg.

The primary source of this article is Bloomberg News, New York, New York, on March 29, 2012.

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