FDA Decides NOT to Ban BPA in Food Packaging
According to The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), “BPA is a synthetic chemical which mimics the female sex hormone, estrogen. Many scientific studies have linked it to reproductive harm, cancer and abnormal brain development. It has no place in the food supply and its use in food and beverage containers needs to be banned.”
The NRDC says they filed a petition with the FDA over three years ago to ban the use of BPA as a food additive; after waiting 18 months with no response, the NRDC then filed a lawsuit. This recent decision by the FDA came as part of the settlement of that lawsuit reached back in December, at which time the FDA promised a decision on banning BPA by March 31 of this year.
“The FDA has carefully reviewed your citizen petition and has determined that it failed to provide sufficient data and information to persuade the FDA to initiate rulemaking,” the FDA’s letter of response to the NRDC said. “The FDA is denying your citizen petition in its entirety.”
On their website, the FDA further explains their decision: “The Food and Drug Administration’s assessment is that the scientific evidence at this time does not suggest that the very low levels of human exposure to BPA through the diet are unsafe … The agency has performed extensive research on BPA, has reviewed hundreds of other studies, and is continuing to address questions and potential concerns raised by certain studies.”
Needless to say, NRDC isn’t happy with the decision. “We believe FDA made the wrong call,” Sarah Janssen, senior scientist in the public health program at the NRDC, said in a statement. “The agency has failed to protect our health and safety in the face of scientific studies that continue to raise disturbing questions about the long-term effects of BPA exposures.”
Consumer advocate Debra Lynn Dadd, author of Toxic Free: How to Protect Your Health and Home from the Chemicals That Are Making You Sick(Sept. 2011), is also disappointed in the decision. “It’s a wrong decision; people should not be exposed to BPA and there’s plenty of scientific evidence as to the dangers of it,” she tells HealthySELF.
Dadd’s solution, at least for now? “What we need to do as consumers now is to not eat canned foods and beverages that contain BPA,” she says.
This isn’t the end of the BPA question for the FDA, however. “I cannot stress enough that this is not a final safety determination on BPA,” said FDA spokesman Douglas Karas in a statement, adding that this is merely a decision on the NRDC’s petition.
“FDA has been working with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences which has invested $30 million into research on BPA,” Karas says. “FDA has been studying and continues to study the effects of BPA and will make any necessary changes to BPA’s status based on the science. FDA is working toward completion of another updated safety review on BPA this year to include all relevant studies and publications.”
In the meantime, if you’re worried about the possible dangers of BPA, the FDA itself offers these tips on avoiding exposure on their website:
-Plastic containers have recycle codes on the bottom. Some, but not all, plastics that are marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.
-Do not put very hot or boiling liquid that you intend to consume in plastic containers made with BPA. BPA levels rise in food when containers/products made with the chemical are heated and come in contact with the food.
-Discard all bottles with scratches, as these may harbor bacteria and, if BPA-containing, lead to greater release of BPA.