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Coca-Cola Faces Anger From Shareholders About Use of BPA in Cans [UPDATE]

Did you know Coke uses BPA, the dreaded leaching chemical, in cans of soda? Neither did I, and Coke’s shareholders aren’t happy about the situation.

Coke

Bisphenol-A, commonly called BPA, is a chemical used in many plastics that in recent years has been found capable of leaching into liquids when used in liquid containers like plastic bottles. It has also been the subject of large-scale recalls, since the FDA discovered it could cause all sorts of medical problems, including cardiovascular disease, liver disease, and diabetes. Many organizations have recalled products using BPA, including Nalgene, Whole Foods, and Eden Organics, but one in particular has not: Coca-Cola.

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Oddly enough, Coke eliminated the chemical from their plastic bottles, but as it turns out, the plastic used to line aluminum cans still contains BPA. The shareholders aren’t happy about the level of disclosure Coke has provided so far, saying the company has “failed to provide investors or consumers with sufficient evidence that it is taking steps to address these public health concerns.” In response, they’ve scheduled a vote for tomorrow on a proposal that will demand the company fully disclose all measures they’ve taken so far.

They’re right to be concerned; BPA has proven not just a health threat but a downright disaster for a company’s public image–Nalgene in particular has suffered a huge loss in trust. Hopefully this pressure from the shareholders will force Coke to phase BPA out of their products entirely.

UPDATE: The shareholder resolution received a 22% vote. Michael Passoff, senior program director of the corporate social responsibility program at As You Sow (a co-filer of the anti-BPA resolution), says: “Overall, it is a great first year vote and we will be bringing it back every year until the company catches up with the rest of the industry in recognizing the risks of BPA. Coke should be concerned about where these resolutions are headed over the long term. The main implication of the resolution is that Coke is an industry laggard, and shareholders like to invest their money with leaders not laggards.”

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About the author

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Popular Science, The Awl, Gizmodo, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. He holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and currently lives in Brooklyn, because he has a beard and glasses and that's the law

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