For real this time, I mean?

It depends.

In my internet wanderings, I found myself on the Wikipedia page for bisphenol A. Although Canada deemed it a toxic substance six months ago, I was surprised to learn how nasty it really is. Knowing that it is/was used in the lining of food and drink cans, I decided to look up the source of what must be my greatest exposure. Coke!

Their Canadian site has a link called The Facts On BPA right on the first page that appears after choosing your preferred language. Given the status of BPA in Canada, I had expected that if they said anything about it, it would be that they had stopped using it and all is well in Coca-Cola land.

To my surprise, I was entirely wrong. They say that the levels of BPA in the Coca-Cola products are safe, and all is well in Coca-Cola land. Could they still really be using it, or have they simply failed to update the page?

I decided to find out. They offer no option to contact the Canadian office on-line so I wrote a letter. It’ll go into the mail sometime this weekend. I’ve added the appropriate links, though they won’t appear in the printed copy, of course.

[my address]

April 8, 2011
Coca-Cola Canada
3389 Steeles Avenue East, #500
Toronto, Ontario
M2H 3S8

Ladies and Gentlemen

I read with interest the page on your web site called, The Facts on BPA. While I appreciate knowing that the levels of bisphenol A that leech into your products from the packaging is below the limits set by Health Canada, I’m still very concerned about exposure to this chemical. My concern is centred on the fact that BPA is an endocrine disruptor, which is very different than a substance that’s simply poisonous or otherwise toxic. Further, last year’s Statistics Canada study that found BPA in 91% of those tested, including Canadians from age 6 to 79, concerns me.

I’m sure I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.

Your BPA facts page carries a copyright notice from 2008, yet the Federal Government added BPA to Canada’s toxic substance’s list six months ago.

Does Coca-Cola sold in Canada still contain BPA in its packaging? If so, are you planning on discontinuing the use of BPA in your product packaging at any definite date in the future?

I’m asking for a clear answer to these questions because I enjoy Coca-Cola. I want to know what I’m drinking and the lack of a clear answer will simply force me to assume the worst.

On a related topic, I’m disappointed with your web site. After selecting Contact Us, you offer only postal addresses to the Canadian offices. As soon as I choose the on-line option, I’m taken to site, which is located in another country subject to different environmental regulations.

Further, on that site there’s a page called Addressing Your Questions which includes an answer about BPA. The answer includes this text:

While we are very aware of the highly publicized concerns and viewpoints that have been expressed about BPA, our point of view is that the scientific consensus on this issue is most accurately reflected in the opinions expressed by those regulatory agencies whose missions and responsibilities are to protect the public’s health.

The consensus repeatedly stated among regulatory agencies in Australia, Canada, Europe, Germany, Japan, New Zealand and the United States is that current levels of exposure to BPA through beverage packaging do not pose a health risk to the general population, including children.

Surely Coca-Cola isn’t suggesting that Canada is expressing a determination of the safety of BPA by categorizing it as toxic?

You’ve left me no option to contact you other than writing and mailing a letter. In return, I’d appreciate the courtesy of clear and frank responses to my questions and concerns.


Rick Pali

The Addressing Your Questions page also answers the question:

Is Coca-Cola looking for alternatives to can liners containing BPA?

We continuously look for alternatives to improve our packaging, while maintaining its safety and quality, to address consumers’ preferences and needs or to enhance the performance of the packaging.

We are working with third-parties that produce can liners to explore possibilities that include alternatives to liners with BPA. Currently, the only commercially viable lining systems for the mass production of aluminum beverage cans contain BPA.

Well, if the only viable can liner includes BPA, maybe it’s time that I did some exploring of my own, namely for other beverages that don’t come in plastic bottles or cans. Perhaps water. The price is right, it’s good for you, and it couldn’t have fewer calories.

Yes, I did try that before, and I stayed off Coke for a few months, but I came back. If they reply with marketing double-talk bullshit, it will be comparatively easy to say a more permanent goodbye to Coke. There’s no better inducement to leave a product behind than being treated like an ass by the manufacturer. They’ve already dug themselves a hole by claiming that Canada is among the countries whose regulators have no issue with BPA, and I am not impressed. We’ll see what they have to say for themselves.

What I do depends entirely on how they treat me, both in terms of their reply, and the contents of their product.