Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Major US food & beverage players caught plotting dirty PR tricks over BPA

The chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, used in commerce since the 1950s, is added to plastics to give them strength. It is found in hundreds of household products, including plastic bottles and food containers. It is also present in the linings of canned goods such as soup, baby formula and canned fruits and vegetables. Over the past decade, a growing body of scientific studies has linked the chemical to breast cancer, testicular cancer, diabetes, hyperactivity, obesity, low sperm count, miscarriage and other reproductive problems in laboratory animals. More recent studies using human data have linked BPA to heart disease and diabetes. And it has been found to interfere with the effects of chemotherapy in breast cancer patients.

Manufacturers of cans for beverages and foods and some of their biggest customers, including Coca-Cola, are trying to devise a public relations and lobbying strategy to block government bans of a controversial chemical Bisphenol (BPA) used in the linings of metal cans and lids. According to internal notes of a private meeting, obtained by The Washington Post, frustrated industry executives huddled for hours Thursday trying to figure out how to tamp down public concerns over the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA.

The notes said the executives are particularly concerned about the views of young mothers, who often make purchasing decisions for households and who are most likely to be focused on health concerns. Industry representatives weighed a range of ideas, including "using fear tactics [e.g. “Do you want to have access to baby food anymore?” as well as giving control back to consumers (e.g. you have a choice between the more expensive product that is frozen or fresh or foods packaged in cans) as ways to dissuade people from choosing BPA-free packaging," the notes said.

The attendees estimated it would cost $500,000 to craft a message for a public relations campaign, according to the notes. “Their ‘holy grail’ spokesperson would be a ‘pregnant young mother who would be willing to speak around the country about the benefits of BPA,’” the notes said.
Source: “Strategy Being Devised To Protect Use of BPA” – The Washington Post – 31 May 2009

Despite this, US Congress gives FDA control over soft drinks
The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed historic legislation Thursday that puts the soft drink industry under the regulation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Soda companies are weighing the impact of the bill, which they say also puts severe restrictions on advertising and packaging. Former FDA Commissioner David Kessler, who spearheaded the original effort to treat the caffeine in soft drinks as a drug, hailed the Senate vote of 79-17. “It's as strong a bill as we could have ever imagined,” he said. More than 350,000 people die every year from soft-drink-related diseases, according to government figures. About 45 million U.S. adults are regular soda-pop drinkers, though the prevalence has fallen since the U.S. surgeon general's warning 45 years ago that soda drinking causes obesity.

The FDA has announced new regulations, slated to take effect July 1, which will tighten governmental controls over the soda industry. All pop cans will be required to carry a warning of the myriad ill effects which are connected with regular soda-drinking. Soda vending machines will be banned in all schools, hospitals, and public buildings. Children under 18 will be prohibited from purchasing soft drinks, unless accompanied by an adult.
Source: “Congress gives FDA control over soft drinks” – examiner.cpom – 12 June 2009

THOUGHTS: This is a very disappointing insight on the ethics and morales of big food business in the US. Their leaders might be great people one-on-one, but when they pressure comes on, their companies work together like a pack of rats. Forget what's right, what's healthy, what's good for the customer....just focus on the profit. Smells like a big tobacco's PR team involved here.

KEYWORD: Foof, Beverage, Ethics, Health, Corporate, Packacking, PR

No comments: