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Have a Coke and a Smile? Maybe Not: Coke Disses BPA-Worried Shareholders

Have a Coke and a Smile? Maybe Not: Coke Disses BPA-Worried Shareholders

Do big corporations care about what large blocks of their shareholders have to say about company practices? I don’t know. I’ve never worked for one.

But I know politicians do. I’ve worked for four, and each did their dead-level best to take the pulse of their constituents every single day.

At Coca-Cola’s annual shareholders’ meeting last month, nearly a quarter of them called on the beverage behemoth to come clean about its use of bisphenol-A (BPA) in the linings of its cans. These concerned investors voted for a resolution urging Coke to make public how it is responding to the growing public anxiety over its use of the toxic, gender-bending chemical.

Coke thinks shareholders don’t need to know – even though they asked
Coke, being Coke, decided that this wasn’t information that those who invest in the company should be privy to.

“We do not believe the information requested in the proposal would be useful to our shareholders,” a spokesman for the company said in a statement.

Why on Earth would shareholders or future investors need to know about what industrial pollutants are in the products their customers drink?

Ignoring BPA is bad business
Michael Passoff, a spokesman for As You Sow, one of three organizations promoting corporate social responsibility that pushed the resolution, drove home an important point:

“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.”

Passoff noted that this was only the first of many BPA resolutions that the company’s shareholders will vote on.

Coke’s trying to stop state BPA bans – but it’s not working
Last year, Coca-Cola, several of its competitors in the beverage biz and chemical industry representatives met at a D.C. social club where they hatched a plot to kill state-level efforts to restrict the use of BPA in certain products designed for young children. (It isn’t working, by the way).

Not long after word of the closed-door meeting broke in the press, EWG president Ken Cook sent a letter to Coke’s Chairman and CEO, Muhtar Kent, calling on him to take immediate steps to reduce children’s exposure to BPA. The next month, several top execs from the Atlanta office jumped on a plane to D.C. for a two-hour meeting with EWG — where they assured my colleagues that they understood our concerns and were trying hard to find an alternative to BPA.

EWG’s advice to Coke
Try harder. That’s what every teacher I’ve ever had told me, and that’s what your shareholders are telling you.

This post originally appeared on Enviroblog, a project of the Environmental Working Group.

Read more about Coke – and its responsiblities to American kids.

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By dan1710 FLickr/creative commons

By Alex Formuzis, EWG Director of Communications

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28 comments

+ add your own
5:52AM PST on Feb 22, 2011

It is sad to see as the companies seek to increase their capital at the expense of consumer health. Not only the Coca Cola that their investments do not seek to improve the quality of life
The consumption of this soda also deteriorates the bones and dentin of our body
Consumer awareness and discard what hurts us
Hugs
Susana ☺

5:50AM PST on Feb 16, 2011

I am astonished by Coke's refusal to provide information to their shareholders and address their concerns. I did not know about BPA's. Thanks for the information.

I occassionally like a rum and coke but may have to "can" that and stick with wine.

1:38AM PDT on Jul 9, 2010

thanks

7:36PM PDT on Jun 8, 2010

Informative.Thanks

1:25PM PDT on May 27, 2010

Thanks for the information

2:18PM PDT on May 26, 2010

Thanks.

7:41PM PDT on May 19, 2010

merci

12:22PM PDT on May 17, 2010

Great article. BPA's are nasty. So glad my son never learned to like soda. Yikes!

5:06PM PDT on May 14, 2010

I sooo agree with Kristen R...it is yet another reason I am happy I don't drink this awful stuff. I never liked it, I'm not into sweet stuff - but nevermind the BPA even, the soda itself is garbage. It's addictive and bad for you - what a great profit center. I'll stop here as I get really angry about the slimy soda industry.

1:54PM PDT on May 14, 2010

thanks for post.

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