Food & Drug Administration refuses to ban BPA

Siding with the chemical industry, the Food & Drug Administration has opted not to ban Bisphenol A from food containers, citing lack of scientific evidence linking BPA exposure to breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and other health problems. 

“Scientific evidence at this time does not suggest that very low levels of human exposure to BPA through the diet are unsafe,” according the FDA’s consumer update on March 30.

BPA is commonly found in plastic water bottles, food cans, and infant bottles, and the synthetic chemical is used to coat food packaging to prevent microbial contamination.

More than 200 scientific studies have indicated that exposure to BPA could cause adverse health effects, according to the National Resources Defense Council. The environmental advocacy group petitioned the FDA to “eliminate BPA from all food packaging.”

“BPA is a toxic chemical that has no place in our food supply. We believe FDA made the wrong call,” said Dr. Sarah Janssen, senior scientist in the public health program at the National Resources Defense Council. “The agency has failed to protect our health and our safety – in the face of scientific studies that continue to raise disturbing questions about the long-term effects of BPA exposures, especially in fetuses, babies and young children.”

The American Medical Association last year recommended banning the use of BPA in infant bottles and feeding cups because of the synthetic chemical’s hormone-disrupting effects.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who sponsored S. 136 “Ban Poisonous Additives Act of 2011”, called the FDA’s decision “regrettable.”

In a July 2011 CNN op-ed, Feinstein suggested that the FDA was favoring the chemical lobby by refusing to regulate BPA without strong proof that the chemical is unsafe.

“I won’t argue that more research might be needed on the effects of BPA, but in the meantime, our children should not be used as guinea pigs,” Feinstein said following the FDA’s decision on Friday.

Feinstein’s bill to ban BPA is pending before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Click here to track the progress of S. 136.

Canada, the European Union, China, South Africa, Argentina, and 11 U.S. states have all prohibited the use of BPA in food packaging.

Scientific studies linking BPA to adverse health effects:

U.S. states that have banned BPA: 

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Massachusetts
  • New York
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

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