Thursday, May 20, 2010

words of the day

food can linings often contain an epoxy lining that contains BPA, alternately, in might be made from

oleoresinous c-enamel

lids from glass jars often contain BPA, alternately, they might be

PVC-based organosol lacquer


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

it's not BPA, but Gen Mills is not going to tell you what it IS!

I sent this letter to Muir Glen (aka General Mills), and received a charming corporate answer (quoted below):
As for me personally, this particular corporate response is going to make me increase the number of units of canned food I eat per year from 0 to 0.

I was very pleased to hear that Muir Glen will be switching to a non-BPA containing can lining in the coming season. I would like to know the name of the new can lining product that will be used in the fall. As well, it would be very helpful to know the ingredients of this new formulation of can liner. It is certainly a welcome change to hear that our industrial partners are taking these issues of food safety seriously, especially in light of the research highlighting the deleterious effects of estrogen-mimicking chemicals on both adults and our unborn potential offspring. Thank you for taking this pro-active stance.
David Resseguie
David ResSeguie
Information Services Manager
Sundance Natural Foods

Dear M. Resseguie:
Thank you for contacting Muir Glen regarding our upcoming packaging change.

We would like to be able to answer all the questions we receive; however, the information you have requested is proprietary.

We appreciate your interest.
Harry Kendall
Consumer Services

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

if it's not BPA, what is it?

General Mills, the current owner of Organic canned food manufacturer, Muir Glen, has announced that it has found an alternative to BPA to line its tomato product cans. The new can linings will debut in the fall, with the canning of the next harvest of tomatoes. Though the press reports what's NOT in the new can linings, we are given no information on what IS in them.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sundance Develops Strategy For Minimizing Toxic Receipts

There are no really easy solutions to the cash register receipt problem. Purchase receipts are useful: they help people catch errors, the provide a record of the transaction for the customer, they serve as proof for a retailer that a customer actually purchased a product.

But paper receipts are not the only recourse to serving these valuable functions. Electronic records are available to the retailer, customers can view the transaction on a large customer display, and most customers do not want nor need their receipts especially for simple, small purchases.

So, my store, Sundance Natural Foods, is adopting a three prong strategy to minimize the environmental toxic load of our receipt production:

1) make printing the receipt an option, as requested by the customer - we have just implemented this part of our strategy. The only seeming downside is that EBT customers do not have easy access to their account balances. This has not been a big problem, as we can query that info by other means. Our cashiers were concerned that having to press two more buttons to print a receipt would "slow things down." They have discovered that not having to wait for the automatic receipt printing to be completed before the sale can "cash out" more than makes up for any slowdown from manual receipt printing. And, as we suspected, if we don't print them, most customers are relieved not to get them anyway.

2) requesting our Point-of-Service software vendor to implement an electronic receipt option, where customers who swipe a debit or credit card can choose to have an electronic version of their receipt emailed to a repository of their choice. This seems to still be in the "vaporware" stage of development. :P Stay tuned!

3) I am buying and will install an old-style receipt printer that uses impact print head and a ribbon to deliver ink to regular, non-thermal, non-chemical impregnated paper. Hopefully, it will get minimal use, as, some of you may remember, the "impact" printers are both much slower than thermal printers (6 lines per second as opposed to 25-50 lines per second) and much noisier.

I have been referring to this as our "back-to-the-future" receipt strategy.

My response to the Weekly Ad

Maybe the Eugene Weekly will publish this reponse. We shall see. The ad/letter to the Weekly was signed by "Stephen K. Schwartz, PResident, CEO," unlike the press release. Anyway, here's my response:
It seems likely that the full page ad taken out by the RiteMade company is designed to assure the public that BPA in cash register receipts and other thermal paper is nothing to worry about. However, the misstatements of fact in the ad make me quite doubtful of that the assertion of “nothing to worry about” is valid.

Contrary to assertions made by RiteMade, neither Health Canada nor the FDA have come to any final conclusions on the safety of BPA. How do I know this? Because Health Canada (, in conjunction with the World Health Organization and the FDA, are currently organizing a meeting to be held in Ottawa on the 2nd through 5th of November 2010 “to review toxicological and health aspects of Bisphenol A.” ( Why are Health Canada, the FDA and WHO having this meeting? The meeting’s web page says that “It is notable that the effects in some of the research studies were described at dose levels several orders of magnitude below those at which effects were reported in the standard guideline (regulatory) studies.” That statement, in plain English, reads “This chemical may have very large effects at very small doses.

Also, despite the vote of the California Toxicant Committee (CDRTIC) against the listing of BPA as a toxic chemical, as mentioned in the ad, the State of California is very likely to add BPA to their Proposition 65 list of toxic chemicals very soon anyway. That is because there are three other ways for a substance to get on the list, most notably, if another authoritative body determines that the substance is toxic. In this case, that authoritative body is the National Toxicology Program’s Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (NTP-CERHR) The NTP is a branch of the US Department of Health and Human Services. Their conclusion in a September 2008 monograph was that “NTP has some concern for effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children at current human exposures to bisphenol A.” “Some concern” is, by the way, less serious than “concern” and “serious concern.”

Another assertion from the RiteMade ad is that they are “unaware of any instance of a health related issue” regarding thermal paper. That may be because they failed to read the study (1500 subjects in the USA, tested twice in the period 2003-2006) that correlates BPA concentration in human bodily tissues directly with higher incidence of heart disease in these populations. (

Ritemade’s concluding argument that there is no practical difference between BPA and BPS may very well be true. However, even here, the actual science done on this question is quite mixed, with some researchers finding nearly identical hormone-mimicking activity in BPA and BPS, while others find BPA to be more potent.

The letter from Mr. Schwartz at RiteMade is not a news article, nor is it scholarly or scientific research. It is persuasive rhetoric designed to convince the public to “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

So, there's my response. Most of the web docs I refer to in it are posted elsewhere on the blog as well, but I may have listed a few new ones.

Full Page Ad in The Eugene Weekly

The April 29th , 2010 Eugene Weekly featured an inside front cover full page ad from the RiteMade Company, a "converter" and reseller of thermal receipt paper. Since the advertising content of the Weekly is not posted on their web site, I will post the letter on the company's web site that is almost identical. You will note that it has many similarities to the post below that was forwarded to me by the Lane Community College Food Services Manager. There are enough differences that I will post this letter in its entirety, as my next post is a point by point commentary and general refutation of the ad/letter:

Kansas City, Kansas, USA Recently there has been quite a bit of “chatter” in the media alluding to potential concerns about handling thermal receipt paper made using BPA (Bisphenol- A). Based on extensive research conducted by governmental authorities and industry experts, the United States Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) and Health Canada have concluded that BPA does not pose any direct health hazards in humans. In fact, the California Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee voted unanimously not to list BPA on the state’s list of toxic chemicals under Proposition 65. At RiteMade Paper Converters, Inc., we have posted statements summarizing a number of these findings and studies including the aforementioned statement issued by the FDA in February 2009 on our website,
Many long term RiteMade employees have been working with thermal paper for more than 20 years. We are unaware of any instance of a health related issue or even an allergic reaction to thermal paper since we first started converting thermal fax paper in the late 1980’s. It is also worth noting that we have not received any reports of health related issues by any of the thousands of workers at the mills that produce thermal base paper during this time. We firmly believe that thermal paper is safe.
A related question has been: “Is there any thermal paper available that is not made using BPA?” To the best of our knowledge, all thermal paper at this time is made using either BPA (Bisphenol- A) or BPS (Bisphenol-S). BPA has received a lot of attention because of its use in making plastics used for bottled water, baby bottles and food can liners. BPS has received almost no attention because it is used mostly for making anti-corrosives, photography and tanning chemicals and epoxy glue agents.
As we understand it, what has created all the chatter is the chemical composition of BPA which is fairly similar to that of synthetic estrogen. While ingestion or handling of synthetic estrogen has been linked to certain health issues, numerous scientific studies have shown no direct links to BPA. Moreover, in terms of estrogen activity, a study conducted by researchers at the Laboratory of Microbiology and Host Defenses and the Institute for Environmental Sciences at a major Japanese university concluded that BPA and BPS were “comparable” in this regard. Based on this conclusion, as a practical matter, there is no difference between thermal paper made using BPA and BPS.
For more information, contact:
Chad Snoddy Manager Marketing and Sales Support
Phone: 913-621-5000
2600 Bi-State Drive Kansas City, KS 66103