As part of my bisphenol-A (BPA) article published March 29 on ICIS Chemical Business (ICB), here is my interview with John. M. Rost, chairman of the North American Metal Packaging Alliance (NAMPA). Some of the blog's faithful readers might recall NAMPA on the spotlight of a certain Milwaukee newspaper last year.
Q: Several food companies and even retailers such as Walmart are moving to phase out BPA in their products, how is NAMPA addressing this development?
Rost: NAMPA fully supports the continued safe use of epoxy coatings for metal packaged foods. Regulatory bodies around the world have deemed BPA-based epoxy coatings to be safe in their current applications; this includes recent reviews by Health Canada, US FDA, European Food Safety Authority, as well as regulatory agencies in Japan and Germany.
NAMPA is also aware of consumer's increasing demand for alternative coatings for metal packaged foods, despite this record of success. NAMPA members are engaged in research programs to deliver those alternatives to consumers who request them. This must be done in the safest manner possible and not be immediate due to testing requirements and regulatory procedures to ensure the safety of any new product.
The current epoxy coatings have an unprecedented safety record when it comes to protecting food from real food safety issues like food borne illnesses . Whether industry is able to develop an alternative that allows for the same level of shelf-life afforded by epoxy resin is yet to be seen.
Q: Is NAMPA encouraging chemical companies to develop alternatives for BPA in canned food packaging applications? What alternatives are currently being considered in this application?
Rost: NAMPA fully supports the continued safe use of epoxy coatings for metal packaged foods. But like any industry, NAMPA member companies are constantly working with their suppliers to develop new an innovative materials and processes to advance metal packaging. Metal packaging has been around for over 200 years and only through this innovation has it continued to be one of the most trusted and sustainable forms of packaging. NAMPA members embrace that innovation and are working to ensure that any consumer demand for coating alternatives are met, but also that it is done in the safest manner possible.
Q: What is the economical impact to the metal packaging industry of a possible BPA ban in canned food packaging not only in states but in federal level? What other implications would result if a ban will be implemented?
Rost: The economic impact of any ban on BPA would likely be felt most directly by the consumer. If a ban was to go into place prior to availability any fully developed and tested alternative coatings, one result would likely be significant decreases in shelf life of the packaged foods. This decrease would dramatically increase the amount of food waste therefore increasing overall food cost for everyday consumers and their families.
Q: What do you think the group, as well as the chemical industry, should have done differently in avoiding this type of issue to escalate?
Rost: The BPA issue is and should continue to be a scientific question. The vast majority of scientist and all regulatory agencies in the world consider the current uses of BPA to be safe. As this issue continues to spill over into the political arena, the scientific data often becomes clouded or disappears entirely. This could have dramatic consequences and set a precedent that would be detrimental to product safety and public policy. The vast majority of consumers trust the regulatory scientists who have been entrusted to protect their health and safety. These scientific experts in public health and toxicology are best suited to review the data and make recommendations to policymakers based on the data.
Here is a video from the NAMPA website (I did not do this interview). I was looking for a photo to accompany this post but decided to use this one instead.