FDA agrees to reassess safety of bisphenol A in food packaging

U.S – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has agreed to reassess the safety of using bisphenol A (BPA) in polycarbonate plastics, metal can coatings and other materials that contact food.

The FDA’s decision comes in response to a food additive petition filed by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and a coalition of physicians, scientists and public health and environmental organizations.

The law requires that FDA make a final decision by October 31, 2022.

In a press release announcing the FDA’s acceptance of its petition, the EDF noted that since submitting the petition in January, a new study, published in Environment International has added to the existing evidence that BPA triggers children’s immune systems.

The study, covering more than 3,000 mothers and their children linked BPA exposure in the womb to higher rates of asthma and wheezing in school-age girls.

The research supports last year’s unanimous findings by a panel of experts convened by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Maricel Maffini, Co-Author of the petition who holds a doctorate in biological sciences, noted that the research took account of studies not previously considered by the FDA.

The EFSA Expert Panel found that harmful effects from BPA exposure can occur at levels tens of thousands times lower than previously thought.

“These studies show that extremely low exposures to BPA can lead to an overactive immune system likely producing out-of-control inflammation. This inflammation can then trigger wheezing and asthma-like effects,” she said.

As stated by Tom Neltner, Environmental Defense Fund’s Senior Director, Safer Chemicals, most Americans get 5,000 times more BPA in their daily diet than the EFSA expert panel says is safe.

“It is imperative that FDA take action to limit BPA contamination of food. And given the significant risks, industry should not wait for FDA to act. They need to find safer alternatives to BPA or drastically reduce the migration of the chemical into food to protect children from harm,” he said.

The January petition and an April supplement were submitted by the EDF, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP), Clean Water Action/Clean Water Fund, Consumer Reports, Endocrine Society, Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF).

EDF Consultant Dr. Maricel Maffini, and Dr. Linda Birnbaum, former Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and National Toxicology Program also took part in the submission.

According to Food Safety Tech, the FDA will soon seek public feedback on the petition.

BPA as a food contact

BPA is used to make polycarbonate and other plastics, which are commonly used in hard items such as food containers, pitchers, tableware, storage containers, and more.

The chemical is also used in epoxy resins that line the inside of metal products and bottle tops. Small amounts of BPA can migrate from containers or equipment into food and beverages.

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