FDA Required to Decide This Week on BPA Ban
By the end of this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is required to make a decision on whether to ban bisphenol-A (BPA) in food containers. BPA is used to make the plastic that lines the insides of food and beverage cans (including infant formula). It is present in a wide range of other products as well, such as bicycle helmets, water coolers, baby bottles, and cash register receipts.
“Thousands of studies have shown that BPA is harmful, even at low levels,” said Dr. Sarah Janssen, a physician and senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
In the article titled “Toxic Chemicals in U.S. Food Packaging Must Go,” on The Blog on Huff Post, Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, writes:
As a result, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now estimates that BPA is in the urine of 93 percent of all Americans. And over the last decade, a growing body of independent research from around the world has linked the chemical to a number of common and serious health problems such as early puberty, brain and heart disorders, infertility and prostate and breast cancer. […]
BPA continues to leach out of plastic long after it’s manufactured; yet companies have never been required to prove that it’s safe.
Barry Estabrook reports for OnEarth.org that 11 U.S. states, the European Union, Canada, and China have banned the use of BPA in children’s feeding products. Banning BPA, he writes, is not something the FDA will do willingly. He quotes Nick Morales, an NRDC legal fellow who is working on the case: “The agency has a long history of finding ways to get around its obligation to protect public safety. We’ll all have to be on the lookout.”
Estabrook goes on to say:
In 2008, NRDC filed a legally binding petition asking FDA officials to ban BPA in all food containers. By law, the agency had 180 days to either say yes or no to the request. Following its preferred course of inaction, the FDA did nothing. It didn’t even open the question to public comment. Two years passed, and the mountain of evidence against BPA grew taller. Last August, NRDC filed a lawsuit to force the FDA to respond. In December, a court ruled that the FDA had to give NRDC an answer by March 31.
One reason the FDA is in no hurry to ban BPA, Estabrook reports, is because industry groups like the North American Metal Packaging Alliance have lobbied hard to allow its use: “They claim that it is safe and protects against food poisoning by preventing air and bacteria from entering through perforations in the cans, even though several companies successfully use cans that are not coated with BPA.”
According to Cook, Campbell’s, the world’s largest soup company, has said it would look for a safer alternative for its cans, and other large food companies — including ConAgra, Eden Foods, and Heinz — are also thinking about redesigning their food containers without BPA. Cook has issued the following plea to consumers:
Unless the government acts to remove BPA from all food packaging, however, American consumers will continue to be exposed through the food they eat. To encourage the FDA to act, EWG has asked its 1-million+ followers to sign a petition urging the agency to act. As I write this, nearly 100,000 people have already done so. Add your voice today.
A chemical that can disrupt hormone function and potentially cause cancers, diabetes, infertility and brain disorders should not be contaminating the food that millions eat every day.
Image by Klean Kanteen, used under Fair Use: Reporting.