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Coca-Cola urged to change cans and eliminate controversial toxin

The world's largest beverage giant may have to explore packaging alternatives for its canned soft drinks if a group of shareholders get their way on April 27.

Investors with Coca-Cola will be voting on a resolution at the company's annual shareowner's meeting in Atlanta Wednesday about the use of bisphenol-A (BPA) in the lining of their cans.

The shareholder advocacy groups As You Sow, Domini Social Investments and Trillium Asset Management Corporation are requesting that the company publish a report by September 1 of this year outlining a plan to develop alternatives to the use of BPA in can linings.

BPA is used to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins.

It is also a hormone disrupter as it mimics estrogen and is commonly found in hard-shelled plastic bottles, milk containers and canned food linings. The coating guards against contamination and extends the shelf life of foods.

Coca-Cola, meanwhile, maintains that the beverage packaging for its products does not pose a public health risk and cites the policies of international regulatory agencies - namely those of Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the US - which maintain that current levels of exposure to BPA are acceptable.

Last year, however, Canada banned BPA, declaring it a toxic substance.

The European Union also voted to ban BPA from baby bottles last year over concerns that the chemical could affect developmental and immune responses in young children - a move that kicked in last month.

Swedish safety agencies have also proposed that it be phased out in food and beverage can linings.