Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Members of the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine hold a press conference at the State House in Augusta Monday morning, urging Governor LePage to sign the Healthy Kids Bill which would strengthen labeling requirements for items containing toxic chemicals. Buy Photo

Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Members of the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine attempt to speak to Governor LePage at the State House in Augusta Monday morning. They want him to sign the Healthy Kids Bill which would strengthen labeling requirements for items containing toxic chemicals. Buy Photo

Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Members of the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine, including Tracy and Jasiah Gregoire (right) speak to Governor LePage’s press secretary, Adrienne Bennett (left) at the State House in Augusta Monday morning. They want him to sign the Healthy Kids Bill which would strengthen labeling requirements for items containing toxic chemicals. Buy Photo

AUGUSTA — A group of mothers who converged Monday on the State House to urge enactment of a law that would prevent the use of potentially harmful chemicals in food packaging were told by Gov. Paul LePage’s office that they’d have to wait and see whether the bill receives his signature.

LePage has until the end of the day Monday to either sign LD 1181, veto the bill or let it go into law without his signature. The bill, which passed unanimously through the House and Senate, would require food companies with gross annual sales of more than $1 billion to report whether they use potentially toxic chemicals, such as bisphenol A, in their products and packaging. Bisphenol A, which is known as BPA, is used in the lining of some canned foods and jar lids and has been shown to cause a range of health problems and hormone imbalances, especially in children and pregnant women.

“For parents like me, this bill would mean that I can finally have the right to know with certainty whether or not a can of soup or beans contains a chemical that can harm the development of my child,” said Morgan Pottle Urquhart of Bangor, who appeared at Monday’s rally at the State House with her 3-year-old son, Dexter. “Like all parents I try to do everything I can to keep my child safe.”

Betty Allen, who owns a housekeeping coaching company in Auburn called Mainetaine, said more and more families are becoming sensitive to the dangers of chemicals in foods.

“Consumers want to know what they’re buying,” she said. “I believe the power of the free market system can make stronger the reputable companies and make weaker the non-reputable ones.”

Jessica Graham, a mother of two from Waterville, said the fight to identify chemicals in foods is far from over, no matter what happens with LD 1181.

“We aren’t going to stop pushing for this access to information that affects our health and the health of our children,” said Graham. “We deserve to know what’s in the products that surround us so we can make our own informed and healthy choices.”

Monday’s event ended at the door to LePage’s office, where the group hoped the governor would emerge to support the bill. But he didn’t.

Adrienne Bennett, his spokeswoman, said the bill was still under review. LePage has until 11:59 p.m. Monday to make a decision. The full Legislature returns to Augusta on Tuesday to take action on several vetoes and other business before adjourning until early 2014 or if called back earlier for a special session.


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