CPG Firms Must Prepare for New Laws Seeking to Reduce BPA Levels in Canned Food

Formulations

reduce BPA levels in canned food
As new regulations pressure companies to reduce BPA levels in canned food, alternative packaging will need to be found.
Image source: Flickr CC user xlibber

Like many people who keep a well-stocked kitchen, my pantry contains a fair amount of canned food. Much of it serves as cooking staples, like beans for chili. But for the times when I can’t cook, I also maintain a regular store of canned soup. Even the most dedicated chef will tell you that sometimes she needs a break, after all.

While I’ve heard about efforts to find alternative packaging for tin cans, I’ve always placed it in the context of making shelf-stable food more visually appealing to hungry consumers. However, like many consumers, I’m paying more attention to the longtime issue regarding the chemicals lining many food cans. A recent report highlights the ongoing problem of 67% of metal cans containing bisphenol A (BPA), which may have the potential to negatively affect hormonal systems.1 While there’s no concrete proof that it actually causes harm in humans, many individuals remain concerned that the chemical can transfer from the container to the food, and then from the food into the human body.

Health Concerns Fuel the Drive to Reduce BPA Levels in Canned Food

Based on these concerns, regulators have already banned its use in certain products such as baby bottles. Campbell’s Soup Company has also stated its intention to eliminate BPA from its products by mid-2017. Following this trend, the EU has made a proposal to reduce BPA levels in canned food through lowering the migration limit by more than 90%. The new regulations even seek to include materials protected by coatings.2 The message is clear: BPA levels must be minimized if the container comes into contact with food.

Faced with these mounting pressures, CPG firms have been investigating BPA alternatives for their food packaging. And even though they’ve met with some success, researchers are discovering that current popular substitutes often have a similar toxicological profile to BPA and may not be safer after all.3 If a key substitute turns out to not be any different from BPA on those terms, then who’s to say the alternative won’t meet a similar regulatory fate? CPG firms might find themselves repeating this replacement cycle once again only a few years from now.

Digital Solutions Can Help Companies Find Ways to Reduce BPA Levels in Canned Food

BPA confers many highly desired traits to food packaging such as durability and protection against spoilage. In particular, the ability to extend a food item’s shelf life to two years or longer has transformed modern homes and kitchens. But given the associated health concerns and increasing external pressures, alternatives need to be developed. They may even need to have radically different chemical profiles given what is known about the potential issues linked to present-day BPA substitutes.

While the task may seem daunting, a simple strategy that can aid R&D efforts to find and develop a viable BPA alternative would include the following:

  1. Identify potential chemicals and/or materials to replace BPA.
  2. Cross-reference past experiments and existing databases to determine whether potential replacements are promising or have liabilities.
  3. Make experimental data available to collaborators to enable further testing or key insights to support decision-making.

As with many CPG R&D efforts, the struggle to find a replacement to reduce BPA levels in canned food hinges on effective and efficient material identification and data management. Finding an innovative safe replacement is crucial for both complying with new regulations and preventing a repetition of this replacement cycle in the near future. And considering how regulatory agencies are trending more stringent with how they view BPA migration limits, the sooner CPG companies can find a safe and successful alternative, the better they will thrive in the marketplace.

BIOVIA Formulations is a unified digital solution that helps CPG companies increase the pace of innovation while reducing R&D cycle times. It builds efficient processes by eliminating outdated paper-based systems and transitioning to digital tools that foster collaboration and instant access at any time from any location. As a result, users can reference past and current experiments to glean valuable insights and background information to streamline the process of developing new formulations and identifying new materials to be used within those formulations. Is your organization interested in discovering safe packaging alternatives for food and other important items? Please contact us today to learn more.

  1. “Report finds toxic BPA common in food cans,” March 30, 2016, http://saferchemicals.org/newsroom/12949/
  2. “EU plans tighter controls on BPA,” April 6, 2016, http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2016/04/eu-reduce-bisphenol-bpa-food-packaging
  3. “Doubts raised about key BPA substitute,” February 11, 2016, http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2016/02/bisphenol-bpa-replacement-toxicology-studies