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Aug 212009

By Harriet Blake
Green Right Now

Coca-Cola is getting kudos from environmentalists for meeting them half way on the subject of BPA, bisphenol-A, a toxic chemical used in food packaging.

On May 28 of this year, lobbyists from the chemical industry and food companies gathered at the Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C. According to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting public health and the environment, the focus of the meeting was to white-wash the risks of BPA.

An internal memo leaked to EWG included the “brainstorm” of recruiting a “pregnant young mother who would be willing to speak around the country about the benefits of BPA.” Many scientists consider BPA toxic in utero to developing babies.

Last month, Coca-Cola executives met with EWG to discuss the DC meeting. Coca-Cola was among a number of companies present, but their executives deny that they were part of any misleading marketing efforts regarding BPA. Other companies at the meeting included Alcoa, Del Monte, the North American Metal Packaging Alliance, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the American Chemistry Council.

As EWG president, Ken Cook, said, “while the Coca-Cola executive 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.”

None of the other companies attending the May meeting has responded to EWG, according to spokesman Alex Formuzis. Currently EWG is encouraging supporters to put pressure on Del Monte, in particular, by demanding it no longer use BPA in its products.

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