Consumers should tell California to enforce BPA warning rule  |  San Francisco Chronicle

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Sam Mogannam and Michael Green

Parents may recall that BPA has been eliminated from most baby bottles and sippy cups, but it is still used in many other products, including in many canned foods. Last year, California added this toxic chemical to the state’s Proposition 65 list√, notifying canned food-makers that they would need to start warning consumers about BPA in their products by May 2016. But just weeks before that deadline, the state released an “emergency” rule with limited public comment or notice, allowing canned food companies to continue selling BPA-tainted products without warning consumers.

It is time for consumers to join health advocates and responsible businesses to demand that this unprecedented and irresponsible policy not go forward.

Bisphenol A is a chemical known to cause birth defects and linked to breast cancer, prostate cancer, obesity, diabetes and numerous other serious health concerns.

Now, having had more than a year to prepare for the warning law to come into effect, canned food-makers say they still need more time to comply. So the state has proposed extending the rule that lets canned food companies deny consumers their right to know about BPA in their products.

Grocers who put their customers first understand that consumers deserve to know what’s in their food. Bi-Rite Markets specializes in building relationships with the customers we serve and with the producers of the high quality, local, organic and sustainably-produced products we sell. For more than 50 years, we’ve built a reputation of integrity with our customers who are conscious about the way our products are grown and packaged. They care about what they put into their bodies and what they feed their children. They trust us and if we don’t have the tools and information to be fully transparent with our guests, that bond is compromised.

This new proposal puts us in the awkward position of denying our customers information they need to make informed choices in the store. The state says that a small sign at the cash register, indicating that “some” canned foods may expose them to BPA, is good enough — despite the legal requirement under Prop. 65 that consumers are given “clear and reasonable” warnings when products can expose them to this toxic chemical.

Obviously this sign does not provide consumers with the accurate information that the law intends. Without labels on the specific canned foods that expose them to BPA, consumers and our staff cannot know which cans “may” or “may not” contain the chemical. This is a common question for our staff members and one that has become very challenging to answer accurately.

In fact, major canned food companies have already eliminated BPA from their products. Here in California, a leading canned food supplier to Safeway, Walmart, Kroger and other major chains reports that they eliminated BPA from their cans three years ago.

Consumers should know when companies are doing the right thing by eliminating harmful chemicals. Yet the state’s proposal continues to allow companies to market their BPA-containing cans side-by-side with safer canned foods that no longer contain the chemical — with no way for consumers to know the difference.

California’s consumers are finally getting a chance to weigh in on the proposed BPA rule. We urge all Californians who care about their children’s and families’ health to join us in opposing this ill-advised rule.

Sam Mogannam is the founder and second-generation owner of Bi-Rite Markets. Michael Green is CEO of the Center for Environmental Health.

Weigh in on Prop. 65 warning requirement

Who: The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
When: 10 a.m., Sept. 12
Where: CalEPA headquarters, 1001 I St., Sacramento
How: Attend the public hearing or email comments to P65Public.Comments@aehha.ca.gov before Sept. 26.

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