SIGG Aluminum Water Bottles Under Fire

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As a parent of two young children, my heart sinks when I read these studies of materials used in products we have personally used with our kids. And though we had to dispose of a few Thomas the Train cars we had which were tainted with lead (and not typically found in the mouths of our babes), to our knowledge (and I suppose that’s subject to change) we managed to avoid nearly all of the known toys and products that cause health issues (with the exception of soy milk which I won’t get into right now). This remained the case until the story of BPA’s potential negative health effects broke in 2007, from a panel convened by the National Institutes of Health.

This article from the Huffington Post written by Dr. Harvey Karp a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, urges the State of California to ban BPA’s used for products made for young children. Minnesota, Connecticut and Canada have also passed legislation to reduce BPA use as has this author’s city of Chicago.

But now, we find the famous Sigg water bottle, for which we conducted this interview back in 2008 very much under fire. In several recent Examiner blog posts, Dana Feldmeier reveals that aluminum water bottle producer SIGG failed to disclose the fact that its epoxy bottle liners contained trace amounts of BPA. The Boston Globe even reprinted an email exchange between a concerned parent, Julie Silas and Steve Wasik, the CEO of Sigg.

Sigg has since publicly apologized with this rather curious explanation, “I am sorry that we did not make our communications on the original SIGG liner more clear from the very beginning…We were operating again under what we thought was an obligation to our supplier, right or wrong. We had no other supplier in place who could provide us a formula so we could continue to do business. Now we know it was the wrong decision. Now we know we should have, you know, put the consumer first,” said Wasik on Thursday.

Here is a link to another of SIGG’s communications directly from their CEO from their website. Noticeably absent ” any specific product information as to whether or not their SIGG bottles contain BPA. And though it appears the SIGG bottles did not leach any BPA, in other words, the test resulted in 0 µg/kg/day (here is a link to the various tests conducted by outside parties and to various internationally recognized standards e.g. EN 14350-2:2004), some of the aluminum bottles (not produced by SIGG) are leaching BPA in excess of the current FDA guidelines of 50 (µg/kg/day). Moreover, many of them appear to be leaching BPA’s in much lower levels which some of the latest studies show negative health effects (e.g. 10 µg/kg/day).

As we see it, the shift to metal drink bottles came as a result of a couple of trends. The first related to potential negative BPA health effects ” people switched to a substitute. The second trend relates to green ” aluminum and stainless water bottles can be filled with regular tap water and reused whereas water bottles from Evian and Aquafina (as examples) typically are discarded.
Ever since the FDA granted approval for aluminum use in cookware and for food storage, innovations for the light metal continue apace for this industry. The main controversy surrounding aluminum in cookware related to potential negative health effects involving Alzheimer’s. However, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, there has been no conclusive reports linking aluminum cookware to the contribution of Alzheimer’s. The primary health risk in terms of aluminum involves the leaching of the metal directly into foods and that is why it is not advisable to store highly acidic foods in bare aluminum containers such as tomatoes.

This story has many different angles. We also want to point out that several aluminum and stainless bottle producers are producing BPA-free product (including SIGG now). However, we believe SIGG’s argument, we thought this was the obligation of our supplier would be of sufficient interest to metals buyers to warrant some additional research and a follow-up post.

–Lisa Reisman

Comments (10)

  1. John says:

    Klean Kanteen’s are the best and fairly priced.

  2. Anthony says:

    I have been using SIGG for several years . I think this issue was totally over blown. If we had to look at everything around us consisting of BPA , we would not be building houses, go to the dentist, brush our teeth, etc. As long as the bottles are completely 100% BPA Leach free, I will still continue to use them. After all, it’s the leaching aspect that concerns me most of all.

  3. Why not make water bottles out of stainless steal.
    They make cookware out of it.

  4. Sharon says:

    I am interested to know more about the writer’s comment:
    “…products that cause health issues (with the exception of soy milk which I won’t get into right now).”
    My son drinks soy milk almost every day and I’m worried there is an issue with soy milk that I don’t know about. Can you let me know? Is it the soy milk or the aeseptic cartons used for storage? Thank you.

  5. admin says:

    Sharon, I am not a scientist nor have I validated the information I am about to share but a friend of ours is an Ag professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and she said to me that since soy is a natural estrogen, boys and pregnant and/or nursing moms of boys should only consume soy in very small amounts. The concern is that it can cause hormonal imbalances which could impact puberty, reproduction etc. I encourage you to discuss it with your pediatrician. LAR

  6. Sharon says:

    Thanks “admin” 🙂 I’ll check into it further.

  7. Gabriel S says:

    To be honest they should not have hid that information, personally I think stainless steal is better, they are less likely to rust, they do not leach chemicals, and they are the same materials that make our cookware. You might pay more but they are better in the long run.

  8. Hello all!

    I think SIGG did the right thing with the voluntary recall- however, knowing there was BPA involved in the SIGG process and running around advertising BPA Free, that is a harsh hit to the public image—-much like we are reading about companies not providing accurate descriptions of ingredients in our food…I didnt care about trans fats until someone told me i did and then voila, foods with no transfats!!! really? Be well and keep up the great work here!

  9. Becca Boo says:

    HI, thanks for the great information! Keep the great info coming- I really love the SIGG bottles and they have come a long way since they got rid of the old BPA liner- interesting stuff and a good company- thanks and enjoy some water on me!

  10. Emily says:

    This was a great article! I must say, the BPA issue was disappointing… But I’m glad that SIGG decided to recall their products- responsible choice in my opinon. I still love SIGG, and I will continue to use their products, especially now that they’re BPA free :).

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