According to Niño, Gaiam is a lifestyle company that sells, among other things, reusable aluminum bottles. It is these bottles that were allegedly sold as BPA-free when in fact they were made using BPA.
"BPA is a chemical used to make plastic," Niño says. "When this endocrine-disrupting chemical is in the body, it mimics or imitates estrogen. A federal interagency program, the National Toxicology Program ("NTP"), has studied the effects of BPA, and the NTP concluded that it has 'some concern' for the effects of BPA on infants and children at current levels of human exposure. A couple of years ago—2006 or 2007—people started moving away from plastic bottles because of concerns about BPA. There have been literally several hundred peer-reviewed articles about BPA and the risks of exposure."
SIGG, a a different company facing lawsuits regarding its water bottles, has already earned the ire of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA, September 23, 2009). In an article on the association's website, the OCA says that it initially listed SIGG as a company to avoid based on information it obtained from the Environmental Working Group identifying SIGG bottles as containing BPA. SIGG responded by informing the OCA that its liners were BPA-free. The OCA then issued a retraction and a letter of apology. In a subsequent press release, SIGG cited the OCA's retraction and used the legitimacy of this consumer advocacy group to represent that its bottles were BPA-free. The net effect is that SIGG convinced the OCA to retract a true statement about SIGG and then used this incorrect retraction to promote SIGG bottles as being BPA-free
However, according to the OCA, SIGG knew the entire time that its bottles contained BPA.
"We have already filed a lawsuit against SIGG regarding these types of misrepresentations," Niño says. "SIGG promoted its products as BPA-free and only this August admitted that they were not BPA-free. Now, SIGG is backtracking and claiming that it never said its bottles were BPA-free, just that the bottles don't leach BPA.
"As it turns out, SIGG is not the only bottle manufacturer making such claims. Just this week, Gaiam published information on its website, basically admitting that even though it told consumers its bottles were BPA-free, they were not.
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