ZRecs vs. Tupperware: A Lesson in Uncovering Product Material Lists

Parents across the world have grown weary of the games being played by the major manufacturers of our children's feeding gear. The market is experiencing one of history's fastest swings away from a single chemical used in product manufacturing. Manufacturers are reeling in the wake of requests for information regarding the types of plastic used in their products and it's obvious that many of them are unsure how to handle the uproar.

A case in point is Tupperware, who had been very secretive with their materials list until a few weeks ago when ZRecs was able to persuade them to provide complete information (you can find the full list here). Take a look at how difficult manufacturers can make this process:

Over the past weeks we have had extensive email and telephone contact with Tupperware through their Worldwide Director of Quality Management and Research & Development, Jan Stevens, after their PR firm helped us set up a conference call. I had a great conversation with him, and found him to be not only knowledgeable and passionate but frank, sincere, and open to new information and perspectives. Based on the information we received from him, we can now confirm that all Tupperware children's items are BPA-free, and that Tupperware has a major customer relations problem on its hands.

My encounter with Mr. Stevens was the first I have ever had with an industry executive at a polycarbonate-using company in which they admitted some legitimate room for parental concern about BPA.

At the beginning of our conversation Jan spent about ten minutes in the firm, aggressive tone we have heard so frequently in our dealings with entrenched companies. When he had finished outlining Tupperware's position, I pointed out to him that the scientific studies of BPA examine targeted and isolated exposure and that while these levels might not reach those he or Tupperware would consider a concern, many parents are trying to limit the children's total exposure levels, which encompassed a vast array of plastic products their children interact with on a daily basis, and that these studies did not – and possibly could not – address these issues in a laboratory setting. He shocked me by agreeing that this was a “different matter,” that “the research is not yet in” about how total environmental exposure to BPA might affect fetal and child development, and that parents might be legitimately concerned about reducing their children's overall exposure to BPA. He then agreed to send me a complete listing of Tupperware products and the exact materials they were all made of.

ZRecs initially spent upwards of 15 hours in labor intensive research and eventually brought in a PR firm as mediator. Only then were they given complete access to Tupperware's material list. Downright absurd. As Jeremiah so eloquently put it,

It is foolish to treat consumer reporters as we have been treated, it is corporate suicide to treat customers that way, and the trouble with bloggers is that they are both. Any company that exhibits this kind of pattern of behavior needs to recast its relationship with consumers for the twenty-first century, and we can't think of many companies that would be more harmed by a failure to do so than Tupperware – the company's independent sales reps, who helped build and remain the lifeblood of that company, reap what the multinational sows, and rely on the brand's gold-standard status to sell the products that feed their families.

The Soft Landing Team has spoken with thousands of parents about the issue. We know firsthand, without a doubt, that they are taking notes on how each company responds. Hiding behind BPA assurance letters and other rhetoric such as “our ingredient list is proprietary” instantly creates a sense of mistrust among consumers.

We've also seen the other side of the coin. Manufacturers who were among the first to lay it all out like Boon, Evenflo, Nuby and Sassy have seen outrageous growth in past months. It's not always because their products are of the highest quality or design – it's simply because they've been honest and forthcoming with every single annoying little request we've made of them. Period.

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30 Responses to ZRecs vs. Tupperware: A Lesson in Uncovering Product Material Lists

  1. Qtpies7~ May 11, 2008 at 4:34 pm #

    I have been wondering about Tupperware recently. Most of our cups and plates and bowls and mixing bowls and serving items are Tupperware, having been a Tupperware manager.

    However, I am not suprised at their lack of forthrightness at first. It is a bad way to do business, to be sure. It makes me wonder if they are actually telling the truth or not. If they did not have PBA in their children’s items, why not just hand it over?

    I wonder, though, are the dinner plates that are not specifically for children safe? The cups for adults? The mixing bowls I make my dough in?

    • Hbrindel September 27, 2010 at 5:44 pm #

      Hi, Did you ever get an answer to your final question about basically all tupperware not just those items related to children? I have been a tupperware fan for 40 years. I know from experience, flours and other food items that I store long term in Tupperware take on an odor that is not pleasant and rather disconcerting.

  2. Qtpies7~ May 11, 2008 at 10:34 am #

    I have been wondering about Tupperware recently. Most of our cups and plates and bowls and mixing bowls and serving items are Tupperware, having been a Tupperware manager.

    However, I am not suprised at their lack of forthrightness at first. It is a bad way to do business, to be sure. It makes me wonder if they are actually telling the truth or not. If they did not have PBA in their children’s items, why not just hand it over?

    I wonder, though, are the dinner plates that are not specifically for children safe? The cups for adults? The mixing bowls I make my dough in?

  3. Pam May 12, 2008 at 6:29 pm #

    Thanks for doing this hard work on our behalf. We are out here listening, and we are wanting companies to make safe products. I like Tupperware, but I haven’t bought any for a while because I didn’t know what was safe and what wasn’t. I hope they continue to make it easier for their customers!

  4. Pam May 12, 2008 at 12:29 pm #

    Thanks for doing this hard work on our behalf. We are out here listening, and we are wanting companies to make safe products. I like Tupperware, but I haven’t bought any for a while because I didn’t know what was safe and what wasn’t. I hope they continue to make it easier for their customers!

  5. CJ's Mommy May 14, 2008 at 6:49 am #

    a very good article re: plastics.
    thoughts I’d share
    http://discovermagazine.com/2008/may/18-the-dirty-truth-about-plastic/article_view?b_start:int=0&-C=

  6. CJ's Mommy May 14, 2008 at 6:49 am #

    a very good article re: plastics.
    thoughts I’d share
    http://discovermagazine.com/2008/may/18-the-dirty-truth-about-plastic/article_view?b_start:int=0&-C=

  7. CJ's Mommy May 14, 2008 at 6:49 am #

    a very good article re: plastics.
    thoughts I’d share
    http://discovermagazine.com/2008/may/18-the-dirty-truth-about-plastic/article_view?b_start:int=0&-C=

  8. CJ's Mommy May 14, 2008 at 6:49 am #

    a very good article re: plastics.
    thoughts I’d share
    http://discovermagazine.com/2008/may/18-the-dirty-truth-about-plastic/article_view?b_start:int=0&-C=

  9. CJ's Mommy May 14, 2008 at 6:49 am #

    a very good article re: plastics.
    thoughts I’d share
    http://discovermagazine.com/2008/may/18-the-dirty-truth-about-plastic/article_view?b_start:int=0&-C=

  10. CJ's Mommy May 14, 2008 at 6:49 am #

    a very good article re: plastics.
    thoughts I’d share
    http://discovermagazine.com/2008/may/18-the-dirty-truth-about-plastic/article_view?b_start:int=0&-C=

  11. CJ's Mommy May 14, 2008 at 6:49 am #

    a very good article re: plastics.
    thoughts I’d share
    http://discovermagazine.com/2008/may/18-the-dirty-truth-about-plastic/article_view?b_start:int=0&-C=

  12. CJ's Mommy May 14, 2008 at 6:49 am #

    a very good article re: plastics.
    thoughts I’d share
    http://discovermagazine.com/2008/may/18-the-dirty-truth-about-plastic/article_view?b_start:int=0&-C=

  13. CJ's Mommy May 14, 2008 at 12:49 pm #

    a very good article re: plastics.
    thoughts I’d share
    http://discovermagazine.com/2008/may/18-the-dirty-truth-about-plastic/article_view?b_start:int=0&-C=

  14. CJ's Mommy May 14, 2008 at 12:49 pm #

    a very good article re: plastics.
    thoughts I’d share
    http://discovermagazine.com/2008/may/18-the-dirty-truth-about-plastic/article_view?b_start:int=0&-C=

  15. CJ's Mommy May 14, 2008 at 12:49 pm #

    a very good article re: plastics.
    thoughts I’d share
    http://discovermagazine.com/2008/may/18-the-dirty-truth-about-plastic/article_view?b_start:int=0&-C=

  16. CJ's Mommy May 14, 2008 at 12:49 pm #

    a very good article re: plastics.
    thoughts I’d share
    http://discovermagazine.com/2008/may/18-the-dirty-truth-about-plastic/article_view?b_start:int=0&-C=

  17. CJ's Mommy May 14, 2008 at 12:49 pm #

    a very good article re: plastics.
    thoughts I’d share
    http://discovermagazine.com/2008/may/18-the-dirty-truth-about-plastic/article_view?b_start:int=0&-C=

  18. CJ's Mommy May 14, 2008 at 12:49 pm #

    a very good article re: plastics.
    thoughts I’d share
    http://discovermagazine.com/2008/may/18-the-dirty-truth-about-plastic/article_view?b_start:int=0&-C=

  19. CJ's Mommy May 14, 2008 at 12:49 pm #

    a very good article re: plastics.
    thoughts I’d share
    http://discovermagazine.com/2008/may/18-the-dirty-truth-about-plastic/article_view?b_start:int=0&-C=

  20. CJ's Mommy May 14, 2008 at 12:49 pm #

    a very good article re: plastics.
    thoughts I’d share
    http://discovermagazine.com/2008/may/18-the-dirty-truth-about-plastic/article_view?b_start:int=0&-C=

  21. softlanding
    softlanding May 14, 2008 at 3:44 pm #

    Wow! Thanks CJ’s Mommy!

  22. softlanding
    softlanding May 14, 2008 at 9:44 pm #

    Wow! Thanks CJ’s Mommy!

  23. Hannah Zimmerman May 30, 2008 at 2:25 pm #

    I see that you guys are discussing the potentially toxic chemicals found in plastics. The Pitch newspaper out of Kansas City recently did a story on MU scientists doing research on this and the chemical companies attempts to shut them up. Check it out at The Pitch

  24. Hannah Zimmerman May 30, 2008 at 8:25 pm #

    I see that you guys are discussing the potentially toxic chemicals found in plastics. The Pitch newspaper out of Kansas City recently did a story on MU scientists doing research on this and the chemical companies attempts to shut them up. Check it out at The Pitch

  25. Dani January 14, 2009 at 7:56 pm #

    Tupperware is secretive about their materials because so many other plastics companies have tried to mimick their product lines. It more about corporate patent busting and way less about any sort of BPA cover-up. There are no Tupperware brand products sold in the US that contain BPA. However, in previous years, the baby bottles that Tupperware sold, did contain BPA. They are no longer sold here and have not been for quite sometime. There are only a few lines from Tupperware that contain BPA and they are listed on http://www.tupperware.com

  26. Dani January 14, 2009 at 1:56 pm #

    Tupperware is secretive about their materials because so many other plastics companies have tried to mimick their product lines. It more about corporate patent busting and way less about any sort of BPA cover-up. There are no Tupperware brand products sold in the US that contain BPA. However, in previous years, the baby bottles that Tupperware sold, did contain BPA. They are no longer sold here and have not been for quite sometime. There are only a few lines from Tupperware that contain BPA and they are listed on http://www.tupperware.com

  27. softlanding
    softlanding January 14, 2009 at 2:03 pm #

    Hi Dani,

    Thanks for your input on the touchy subject of revealing patented materials. In my opinion, it’s fine for a company to protect their proprietary ingredient list, so long as they at least answer the basic questions concerning the use of toxic plastic. We at The Soft Landing would have been happy with a simple yes or no answer when we asked whether their products contained BPA, PVC or phthalates. That’s the least they could do for parents concerned about their children’s health. This isn’t a game, but a gamble with unnecessary risks imposed by companies like Fisher Price, who still won’t reveal whether their products contain toxic plastic or not.

    Alicia

  28. softlanding
    softlanding January 14, 2009 at 8:03 pm #

    Hi Dani,

    Thanks for your input on the touchy subject of revealing patented materials. In my opinion, it’s fine for a company to protect their proprietary ingredient list, so long as they at least answer the basic questions concerning the use of toxic plastic. We at The Soft Landing would have been happy with a simple yes or no answer when we asked whether their products contained BPA, PVC or phthalates. That’s the least they could do for parents concerned about their children’s health. This isn’t a game, but a gamble with unnecessary risks imposed by companies like Fisher Price, who still won’t reveal whether their products contain toxic plastic or not.

    Alicia

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Nest Baby New Arrivals : 5/16: Seen this week on the web - May 28, 2008

    […] wrap featured on Mommies With Style and the brand new baby Crocs seen on MomFinds. Safety Stuff: The Soft Landing Blog has a fascinating account of just how difficult it can be to get full materials lists from product […]

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