FDA Opens BPA Regulations to Public Comment
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has started a 60-day public comment period on revisions to federal regulations of the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA). Announced in the Federal Register on February 17, the consultation period comes after the American Chemistry Council (ACC) requested changes to certain guidelines regarding children's drinkware.
On October 7, 2011, the ACC petitioned the FDA to amend food additive legislation pertaining to bottles and spill-proof cups. Presently, the regulations allow the use of certain polycarbonate resins, including BPA, in children's drinkware. The ACC maintains that the drinkware industry has abandoned the use of any polycarbonates in products for infants and toddlers, and has requested the FDA remove those allowances to avoid confusion.
"Although governments around the world continue to support the safety of BPA in food contact materials, confusion about whether BPA is used in baby bottles and sippy cups has become an unnecessary distraction to consumers, legislators and state regulators," said Steven G. Hentges, Ph.D., head of the ACC's polycarbonate and BPA division. "FDA action on this request will provide certainty that BPA is not used to make the baby bottles and sippy cups on store shelves, either today or in the future."
While the ACC stated that the drinkware industry has collectively abandoned the use of BPA in children's materials, without regulation it is impossible to ensure universal adoption. Still, most manufacturers and suppliers have voluntary abandoned the chemical and offer BPA-free drinkware for both children and adults.
Several states have independently banned the use of BPA in materials intended for children, although the legislation varies from state to state. According to the ACC, the amended regulations will ensure no further local legislation is needed, eliminating confusing laws and preventing consumer panic.
The ACC claims that BPA is "safe for use in food-contact materials intended for infants and toddlers," and that several international government agencies have ruled to permit BPA's use in products. However, consumers in the U.S. have turned against the chemical, and many European countries have upheld bans on the material. Mostly recently, France proposed a ban on all imports of food stored and shipped in packaging containing BPA.
Consumers and manufacturers alike will be able to submit comments on the amended regulation to the FDA or to www.regulations.gov until April 17, 2012. The FDA is expected to make a final decision shortly after that period.