It’s no secret that bisphenol A (BPA) has been controversial for quite some time and has received intense scrutiny from scientists, government agencies, the media and environmental groups. Such scrutiny has resulted in demand from consumers for alternatives to products that contain BPA, and hasty efforts from some manufacturers to provide “BPA-Free” products. While the controversy surrounding BPA may be interesting and important, the controversy by itself does not provide an answer to the key question addressed in this article – Why replace BPA?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates the uses of BPA for food contact applications and polycarbonate is widely used in FDA-regulated medical devices. Since the agency seeks to provide the soundest basis for its regulatory decisions, FDA, in conjunction with the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP), designed a robust research program to answer key scientific questions about the safety of BPA.
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) offers the following comments regarding the release of the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) “Draft Scientific Opinion on the risks to public health related to the presence of bisphenol A (BPA) in foodstuffs.” Quotes from the following may be attributed to Steven G. Hentges, Ph.D. of ACC’s Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group.
“The European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) announcement today reaffirms that consumer exposure to BPA, from all sources, poses a low health risk. In this comprehensive review of more than 450 studies addressing potential health hazards, the Authority applied a weight of evidence approach and concluded: ‘the health risk for all population groups is low—including for fetuses, infants, young children and adults."
“FDA’s authority to act on this petition is based solely on marketplace conditions. As stated in the petition, BPA is no longer used in infant formula packaging. We believe this action by FDA will bring clarity for consumers and will eliminate any lingering confusion about the presence of BPA in infant formula packaging. As noted by FDA, their action is not based on any finding or conclusion that packaging containing BPA is unsafe. Epoxy resins have been widely used for more than 30 years to line food and beverage cans, protect food quality and nutrition, and extend shelf life. Based on a long history of safe use, and FDA’s recent reaffirmation of BPA’s safety, epoxy resin food can linings continue to be the preferred choice for safe and effective food packaging."
ACC’s response to a April 10 USA Today article about a new activist campaign to pull chemicals from consumer products. ACC notes that chemical companies go to great lengths to help Americans make informed decisions about the products they purchase, including undertaking extensive scientific analyses to evaluate the potential risks of chemical products. ACC also notes that chemical safety is overseen by six federal agencies under more than a dozen federal laws and regulations.