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The biz on Bisphenol A

A lot has been written about Bisphenol A (BPA) the chemical used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastic and its ability to leach into the contents of food and beverage containers. Unfortunately not all of it is accurate and some of it is downright wrong. The problem then becomes trying to determine fact from fiction.

Snowy Mountain Spring Water, as a producer of bottled spring water, is concerned that some of the information circulating about BPA implies that it is used in the manufacture of bottles used for bottled spring water. This is incorrect.

The plastic bottles used by Snowy Mountain Spring Water are those commonly referred to as PET bottles. PET or PETE is the acronym for Polyethylene Terephthalate. PET bottles are easily recognized as they are marked on the bottom with the recycling symbol enclosing the number 1 which indicates that it is fully recyclable. PET bottles contain no BPA.

PET is a clear, tough plastic that has good gas and moisture barrier properties. It is commonly used for soft drink, juice, water, and sports drinks bottles, as well as food jars for products such as peanut butter, jam, honey, etc.

Polycarbonate plastic, which is manufactured using BPA, is a harder, more rigid plastic which is transparent and highly durable and is used for baby bottles, CD’s, impact-resistant safety equipment and medical devices.

Where the confusion arises between PET bottles and bottles manufactured with BPA is in the terminology and imagery that is used across a range of publications, some of which are from highly reputable sources.

For example, on two website pages of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on BPA entitled “Bisphenol A in consumer products1” and “Bisphenol A (BPA) in consumer products2” the same image appears at the top of the page and the image clearly shows PET bottles which would commonly be sold over the counter containing natural spring water or filtered water.

While the information contained on both pages is very positive and negates much of the fear surrounding BPA, anyone not prepared to read the article will be given the wrong impression merely by the photograph. There is also a reference to water bottles under the heading “Is BPA safe?” which, given the vast range of bottles that could be referred to as water bottles is a very misleading term when not clarified.

Confusion also arises from the simple use of the term plastic bottles. In many articles about BPA leaching into food and beverages, the beverage containers are referred to as plastic bottles or reusable plastic drink containers.

So it is not difficult to see how easy it is to blur the line between the perfectly safe PET bottle and the suspect polycarbonate bottle made with BPA and to understand why consumers are confused about the problem of chemical leaching.

The good news though is that the amount of BPA likely to be absorbed through leaching into food or beverages is minimal and as recently as September 2010 Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) stated that “Bisphenol A does not cause cancer”3 and that an internationally recognised Tolerable Daily Intake had been established of 0.05mg per kilogram of body weight which would not cause an appreciable health risk over a lifetime.

However, erring on the side of caution, the Australian Government announced in June 2010 that polycarbonate baby bottles containing BPA would be phased out of the Australian market. This approach is consistent with that taken by government and industry in a number of other countries.

Snowy Mountain Spring Water would encourage all consumers who are concerned about the possible harmful effects of BPA to seek out and read as much literature as possible so as to be fully informed and draw their own conclusions.

Consumers can be assured that Snowy Mountain Natural Spring Water will continue to be sold in fully recyclable PET bottles and that both bottle and contents pose no risk to their health.



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