Call to ban BPA rejected by FDA
The chemical, which is known as BPA, is used in food-contact packaging including some food and drinks cans. Resins are used to protect foods from microbial and other contamination by coating the inside of metal products.
The FDA rejected the NRDC’s petition on the basis that it failed to demonstrate the need for immediate regulatory action. In announcing its decision, the agency reiterated that BPA, at current levels of exposure, is safe for use in food contact applications for people of all ages, including infants and children.
The FDA was required to provide a final decision on the NRDC petition, which requested action by 31 March 2012. It did not compel FDA to take an action, nor did it repudiate the agency’s previous safety assessments.
The agency’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.
Dennis Keefe, director of FDA’s office of food additive safety, said: “We make public health decisions based on a careful review of well performed studies, not based on claims or beliefs. We have to perform an unbiased evaluation of the data.”
The decision has been welcomed by the North American Metal Packaging Alliance (NAMPA). Chairman Dr John Rost said: “The FDA’s decision is a welcome development, demonstrating the seriousness of the agency’s commitment to doing its job of protecting public health. Instead of bowing to pressure from activist groups, the agency is relying on science to set public health policy. FDA’s decision to pursue an updated risk assessment is especially important given that preliminary results from ongoing government funded research support the safety of BPA in food contact uses.”
Since its last assessment in 2010, FDA has invested millions of dollars into research on BPA. With much of that work still underway, NAMPA agrees with FDA’s view that taking action prior to the conclusion of that research would make little sense.
“Given the serious implications on food safety from any action to ban BPA, we believe FDA is pursuing a prudent course of action,” Dr Rost adds. “A ban without conclusive scientific evidence of risk would compromise the safety of canned foods and beverages enjoyed by millions of Americans everyday.”
The FDA will continue its research and monitoring of studies to address uncertainties raised about BPA.