New EU findings call for an end to BPA in food packaging. How will the FDA respond? – Food, Drugs, Health, Life Sciences

European Union: New EU findings call for an end to BPA in food packaging. How will the FDA respond?

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Ever since I started practicing food and beverage law over three decades ago (sigh), the use of BPA in food packaging has been a controversial topic. For years, various groups have claimed that bisphenol-A, or BPA, an ingredient used in polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins that is added to everything from Tupperware to liners in cans and bottle caps, can be leaking out of plastic and into food, leading to a myriad of health issues. The FDA has maintained that current levels of BPA in food packaging are safe.

The European Food Safety Agency recently released a report concluding that the new “safe level” of BPA exposure is about 5,000 times lower than what most Americans are exposed to. Based largely on these findings, a petition filed by the Environmental Defense Fund, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, Clean Water Action/Clean Water Fund, Consumer Reports, Endocrine Society, Environmental Working Group, Healthy Babies Bright Futures, Dr. Maricel Maffini and Dr. Linda Birnbaum (the former director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and National Toxicology Program), calls on the FDA to limit BPA in food and other packaging food contact materials at less than 0.5 parts per trillion in food, which is lower than today’s tests can accurately detect. The next effect of such a limit would be to eliminate the use of BPA in food packaging.

Because this isn’t the first time calls have been made to ban BPA in food packaging, there’s a part of me that wants to say “I’ve seen that movie before.” This time, however, I don’t know how it will end. The EFSA data appears to be powerful and the EU is likely to ban BPA in food packaging in the short term. Will the FDA follow suit? Like others in the food and drink business, I’ll be keeping a close eye on this new iteration of a long-running controversy.

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