Friday, April 8, 2011

Uncle Ben Strikes Back!

Uncle Ben got back to me; here's what he had to say about my query:

Dear Mr Benner,

Thank you for your inquiry regarding our BISTRO EXPRESS® Rice.

Mars Canada is committed to providing consumers with food products that are enjoyable, nutritious and safe and which adhere to Canada’s rigorous food safety regulatory system.

Following a risk assessment regarding the safety of Bisphenol A, the Government of Canada has announced that there are no safety or health concerns for the general population concerning the use of BPA in food packaging, risk is negligible and there is a very low exposure of this substance to the Canadian population.

At Mars Canada, we will continue to monitor the expert community for new developments into research on BPA.

Our BISTRO EXPRESS® ENTREE Rice products are shelf stable and have a 1 year shelf life when stored under the proper conditions.  Similar to canned products, these pouches are hermetically sealed and can be stored in your cupboards or pantry for up to one year past their manufacturing date.

Again, just like in the canning process, the thermal process used to render the BISTRO EXPRESS pouches commercially sterile is more than adequate to kill mould spores present in the atmosphere.  On the rare occasions that a product goes bad before its expiry date, it has been as a result of gross damage in distribution.

We have done extensive testing to ensure the materials that make up the BISTRO pouch meets all our requirements for retort.  Since the retort process involves high temperature and pressure, pouches are tested for delamination and strong seal properties.  The plastic films that make up the pouches are non-porous materials that can handle the conditions of the retort and microwave.  The printing inks are food grade, non-lead and printed between film layers prior to lamination.

We thank you for your interest in our products.


Your Friends at MARS Canada Inc.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Uncle Ben's plastic express rice...

I'm bored and when I'm bored I like to research topics that may have crossed my mind that day. I hate plastics, not in all forms, that's impossible. Plastics are everywhere, I'm pretty sure that plastic is the primary component that makes up the very electronic computing device I type upon now. We can't avoid plastic but I do try to avoid it in my kitchen.
Chemicals scare the shit out of me because I'm of a generation that has heard enough about what previous generations didn't do to protect themselves from the adverse effects of chemicals. I was born after Silent Spring, I didn't walk through a jungle of Agent Orange, and I grew up in rural Ontario dodging air pollution's daunting blow. And yet we're not out of the woods yet, my mom still reused and microwaved plastic containers when we were kids, I did also, the margarine tub. I guarantee I've eaten hundreds of microwaveable packaged lunches that could very well have been lined with BPA or whatever else we haven't seen the long term effects of yet.
The point I'm trying to get at is that I dislike plastic because it contains chemicals that are known to be harmful to humans like me, and I'm a human like me. I don't use plastic storage containers for anything but bolts; if the curry can stain the plastic can't the plastic leech something back? We know it can, many times better if it's heated, I just read some insightful articles on the topic of PBA from 2008 when it was a major topic to articles written now. As we all well know BPA = BAD but I've yet to find something that clearly defines what products are still using it and what aren't; because it's not illegal, as the FDA considers some products containing BPA safe. Canada was the first country to declare BPA a toxin and ban it's use in baby bottles, Wikipedia tells me it happened in September, thanks Wikipedia. Scare facts time, 93 percent of the population in 2008 had BPA in their system. It effects infants most heavily and has recently been show to aid obesity, these are all bad. The FDA regularly publishes material exposing more about the effects of plastics yet an anti plastic movement gains credibility like a no smoking campaign...

What started all of this is....

I disappeared for a minute there, short attention span, I'm going in two directions now. I'm going to the source... Wait that's the start of a sentence for later. I eat Rice. Uncle Ben's rice, Bistro Express to be precise rice. I never, ever, ever microwave it in the bag because I hate plastic bags, right because I was just ranting about plastic. Anyway, the wheels came off about the time I was digging through my trash looking for the rice bag to check for some sort of BPA free declaration, I didn't see one not sure if I should. A challenge, I checked the website, nothing there either, odd I can't be the only consumer to have asked this question. So here I am,

Good evening Uncle Ben,

I was wondering if your Bistro Express rice pouches are BPA free? I can't seem to find it anywhere on the pouch and there's nothing on the website either, I'm also not an expert on the topic just curious. Perhaps you could shed some light on my query?

Kind regards,


Oh I can't wait to see what that clever devil has to say in response, I'm wringing my hands with gnawing anticipation. Crusade!