U.S. Food and Drug Administration Rejects Request to Ban BPA in Packaging
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rejected a proposed ban on the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) on Friday. Citing a lack of compelling evidence, the FDA said the did not see a reason to amend regulations of the controversial chemical and suggested it be subjected to continued study.
In a letter to The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the organization that proposed the ban, the FDA said it "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 is denying your citizen petition in its entirety."
Last week's decision was instigated by the NRDC when it filed a lawsuit in 2011 claiming the FDA was deliberately avoiding ruling on the chemical. The NRDC originally requested the agency investigate BPA in 2008, and when that time passed, the lawsuit was filed and the March 31 date set by a judge last December.
"BPA is a toxic chemical that has no place in our food supply," Dr. Sarah Janssen, senior scientist in the public health program at the NRDC, said in a statement. "We believe FDA made the wrong call."
"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, especially in fetuses, babies and young children," she said.
BPA is a plasticizer used in polycarbonate plastics and in the lining of aluminum cans and plastic bottles. Numerous side-effects have been attributed to BPA exposure, including hormone imbalances and cancer. The chemical is reported to mimic estrogen in human bodies, potentially causing developmental issues in young children.
Since the potential dangers were made public in 2008, most promotional products suppliers and other manufacturers have removed the chemical from their products and now offer BPA-free drinkware and food containers. In 2010, the FDA supported regulations prohibiting the chemical from being used in baby bottles, although its use in sports bottles and other food containers remains unregulated.
The American Chemistry Council (ACC), a lobbying group for the plastics industry which produces $8 billion in BPA annually, applauded the decision. ""FDA's decision today, which has taken into consideration the best available science, again confirms that BPA is safe for use in food-contact materials, as it has been approved and used safely for four decades," Steven G. Hentges of the ACC.
Laws regulating BPA vary from state-to-state as well as internationally. In 2011, legislators in Maine and California passed bills banning the chemical's use in certain classes of products, and countries such as Canada, France and Japan have all prohibited its use or voluntarily phased it out. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has said it sees no reason to limit the chemical, and countries like Australia and U.K. have said they will not ban BPA.
The FDA stated that is most recent ruling is not a final decision, and that it will reopen the case if and when more evidence is presented.