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ConAgra goes BPA-free for U.S. and Canadian food cans

Article-ConAgra goes BPA-free for U.S. and Canadian food cans

ConAgra goes BPA-free for U.S. and Canadian food cans
ConAgra answers the desire of consumers for BPA-free cans.

ConAgra Foods Inc., owner of Hunt’s, Chef Boyardee, Libby’s, Van Camp’s and many other iconic canned-food brands, has completed the transition to cans that do not have bisphenol-A (BPA) liners.

The company completed this change to its food packaging, which affects its U.S. and Canadian canning facilities, on July 30. Ardagh Group supplies the new cans, which are made with a BPA-free coating.

Although ConAgra currently imports into North America what it describes as “a small quantity of canned products” with BPA liners, the company expects these products to also be BPA-free by early next year.

The company started canning some foods in cans with non-BPA liners in 2010 and has worked closely with Ardagh to develop a non-BPA liner that was compatible with the full range of ConAgra’s canned products, including those with high acidity.

Wes Wasson, senior director, packaging technology and cost optimization, ConAgra Foods, answered our questions about the BPA-free cans and why the company made the change.

The FDA and other agencies around the world have found BPA to be safe. Why remove it? Why now?

Wasson: BPA is safe. The FDA and many other credible government agencies across the globe agree. We removed BPA from cans based on consumer preference. In response to our consumers’ desire for alternate coatings for packaging for the food they eat, we have been working for several years to identify, test, qualify and commercialize non-BPA coatings that they can trust.

Many of our cans have been out of BPA for a while, but we waited to make a formal announcement until we could talk about our entire portfolio of food made in the United States and Canada being in non-BPA cans.

In the past, other options for replacing BPA in can liners have been cost-prohibitive. How much more do your new cans cost?

Wasson: We worked with our suppliers to find ways to mitigate higher costs. To change the liners, we looked for alternatives that would work with the food we package. The cans are made in new, state-of-the-art production facilities using advanced technologies that allow for use of different coating systems using polyester or acrylic materials that do not contain BPA.

Will you be passing along the added cost to consumers?

Wasson: No.

Do the new cans deliver the same product shelf life?

Wasson: Yes. The new cans match or exceed the performance of epoxy-lined cans. We typically target a two-year shelf life for canned foods.

How are you communicating the non-BPA cans to consumers?

Wasson: We’ve shared our release via our company social media channels, put out a news release, posted our release to our company website and continue to respond to various media outlets that are helping us get the message out to our consumers.

What is the structure of the new cans?

Wasson: We have a very diverse portfolio and as a result have an array of can and end specifications. We have converted all of our 211-, 300- and 307-diameter cans to steel two-piece cans. Our Vienna Sausage cans are 208 x 208 two-piece aluminum. All our other sizes are in steel three-piece cans. Our 15-oz Chef Boyardee cans all have easy-open lids, as do our Vienna Sausage cans. Depending on the channel, some of our other canned foods are sold with easy-open lids, as well.

How has the response been so far from customers (retailers and consumers) to the new cans?

Wasson: The response has been positive. We recognize consumer interest in removing BPA from our cans and are pleased to be able to respond to that desire and offer food that our consumers can feel confident in.

TAGS: Technologies
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