Ninety-seven percent believe food industry should stop using BPA: SG poll

July 20, 2012

A recent SupermarketGuru survey shows that a vast majority of shoppers depend on canned foods but feel BPA should be banned or limited from these products

On Tuesday, the federal government announced that a ban would be placed on the use of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups. In addition, some legislation has been introduced that could potentially ban the use of this chemical in all products, which would affect a wide range of canned foods where BPA is used as a lining to protect food from microbial or chemical contamination.

Last month, SupermarketGuru conducted a survey to find out how consumers are reacting to this controversial chemical. Here's what the panel had to say.

The panel was asked how their buying has changed since research has come out about possible toxic properties of BPA. A majority of the panel (46%) said that they buy less canned foods. Twenty-four percent said they buy the same amount as before, and 20% say they make sure cans are BPA-free before they buy. Only 7% said they don't buy canned foods anymore, and 4% said they don't know what BPA is.

One of BPA's benefits is that it gives canned foods a longer shelf-life - an important benefit for families on a budget and for food banks. When the SG panel was asked to tell us the reasons canned foods are appealing to them, the number one answer (59%) was "long shelf-life," coming in second was "convenience" (55%), in third place was "easy to store" (48%), and in fourth place was "it's an easy part of meal preparation" (45%). Another 35% said they like to stock up during canned food promotions (making shelf life again an important factor), and 29% said the price was appealing.

SG wanted to find out if shoppers are so concerned about BPA that they would be willing to spend more on products sold with packaging that does not contain BPA. Fifty-one percent said that it depends on the food, 35% said yes, and another 14% said no, they would not spend more for the same food in a different packaging.

One of the most significant findings from the survey showed that a vast majority of shoppers (85%) feel BPA should be banned or levels should be limited by the federal government. And 97% think the food industry should seek an alternative can liner.

Clearly, this controversial topic is an important issue in the minds of shoppers, but also to the food industry. The SG survey shows that 91% eat canned foods. Canned foods are an important source of nutritious foods for many Americans with less money to spend on more expensive fresh produce. Questions have been raised in this debate on whether or not fear of BPA may deter consumers from meeting their nutritional needs when it comes to fruits and vegetables, and not to mention combating the obesity epidemic.

Until an agreement is reached by the government and the food industry, supermarkets can assist concerned shoppers by showcasing products that do not contain BPA. Currently, there are some canned foods available that are only a couple of cents more than their counterparts. In March of 2012, Campbell's Soups announced that they would be phasing out BPA, Trader Joe's private label and Whole Foods stores both carry BPA free products, and there are many more food manufacturers responding to shoppers' concerns by offering alternatives.

Click here to read both sides of the BPA Debate.