Canadian retail chain pulls plastic water bottles

Mon Dec 10, 2007 8:22am EST
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By Claire Sibonney

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's largest outdoor-goods chain has pulled water bottles and food containers made of polycarbonate plastic from its shelves over worries about the chemical bisphenol A, which has been linked to cancer and reproductive problems in animals.

Vancouver-based Mountain Equipment Co-op became the first major Canadian retailer to stop selling products that contain bisphenol A over fears the chemical can leach from plastic food and water containers.

"Inconclusive science and regulatory uncertainty presently surrounds bisphenol-A (BPA)," the company said in a statement.

"For these reasons, MEC has stopped selling polycarbonate water bottles and food containers until guidance is provided by the Government of Canada on the health risks posed by BPA."

The Canadian co-operative joins U.S.-based Patagonia in dropping the products because of health concerns.

The chemical, which can mimic the effects of the hormone estrogen in cells, has been surrounded by controversy. Some North American researchers and environmentalists have shown it can cause several types of cancer as well as developmental, neural, behavioral and reproductive harm in animals.

Industry says the products are not dangerous, citing studies from government agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that food and beverage containers manufactured from polycarbonate do not pose a health risk to humans.

"Rarely has a chemical been the subject of such intense scientific testing and scrutiny, and still, important agencies across the globe agree that there is no danger posed to humans from polycarbonate bottles," said Tom Cummins, spokesman for Nalgene and Nunc Brand Products, which manufacturers the popular Nalgene polycarbonate water bottles.   Continued...