BPA, Consumer Panel Reports

November 15, 2011

What did consumers have to say about the safety of BPA? Do they avoid this chemical or do they even know what it is

The safety of BPA has been questioned for decades. In fact, its toxicity was first discovered in 1930 when it was initially found to mimic estrogen, leading to various cancers. Nonetheless, a decade later its use was ubiquitous in plastics, cans, and tins used for food. Although manufactures knew of its health impacts, they were not required to prove its safety. Until more recently, BPA’s toxicity has been ignored by governmental regulatory organizations, despite mounting evidence for the contrary.

Most recently, researchers have found that the chemical could be causing behavioral problems in young girls. A new study published in the journal Pediatrics found that female toddlers exposed to BPA before they were born exhibited worse behavior at age three than those who were not exposed.

So with so much research and controversy over this potentially toxic material, are consumers actually aware of it and where it is used? Just half of the SupermarketGuru consumer panel says they know a little about BPA, while nearly 40% say they have learned a lot about BPA. Somewhat surprisingly, 11% say they are not aware of BPA.

When asked if they avoid certain containers for fear of BPA, 62% say “sometimes", but they are not entirely sure how to avoid it, while 19% say they only purchase BPA-free products.

Previous research by the NIH found that BPA may pose risks to human development, raising concerns for early puberty, prostate effects, breast cancer, and behavioral impacts from early-life exposures. It is thought that pregnant women, infants and young children are most vulnerable to the harmful effects of BPA, but a recent study linked BPA exposures to risk of heart disease, diabetes, and liver toxicity, thus greatly expanding the risk groups.

Despite this evidence, 19% of consumers say they sometimes avoid BPA but are not really concerned or don’t even believe it is harmful.

It seems that BPA poses a risk to the entire population and with the widespread use of plastics for eating, cooking and drinking, there is nowhere to hide! This fact was clearly demonstrated in the U.S. 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Ninety-two percent of the 2,517 participants (aged 6+) had detectable concentrations of BPA in their urine.

Labeling is an issue that consumers strongly favor, 92% of the consumer panel would like to see BPA-free labels on plastics, canned foods and wherever else BPA might appear. When asked if the government should ban the use of BPA in all food packages, half said, “Yes, absolutely".

SupermarketGuru doubts that a ban will happen anytime soon, if at all, but if there is enough consumer pressure to label and get BPA out of the packaging, the chemical might very well see its self out of our food packages.