Several organizations have petitioned the FDA to prohibit bisphenol A from being used in food packaging.
The Endocrine Society joined a group of physicians, scientists, and public health and environmental organizations in a formal petition to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), urging the agency to revoke bisphenol A (BPA) approvals in adhesives and coatings and place strict restrictions on its use in food-contact plastics.
According to new findings from an expert team formed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the detrimental effects of BPA exposure can occur at 100,000 times lower levels than previously anticipated. This new safe limit, based on recent scientific findings, is more than 5,000 times lower than the FDA recommends for most Americans.
These results clearly indicate a considerable health risk and support the conclusion that BPA use is not safe. The petition asks the FDA to limit the use of BPA in food contact items that could cause migration into food at levels more than 0.5 nanograms per kilogram of food.
«The procedure adopted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to reassess the safety of bisphenol is a model for how the FDA should handle the hundreds of chemicals it approved decades ago. Transparent, detailed, and scientifically sound, «EDF’s senior director for safer chemicals, Tom Neltner, agreed. «With Americans being overexposed to BPA by more than 5,000 times, the FDA must make this a major priority and reach a definitive conclusion within the statutory limit of 180 days.»
The Endocrine Society, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, Clean Water Action/Clean Water Fund, Consumer Reports, Environmental Working Group, Healthy Babies Bright Futures, Dr. Maricel Maffini, and Dr. Linda Birnbaum, former director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and National Toxicology Program, signed the petition.
Polycarbonate and kindred plastics, which are often used in hard goods like food containers, pitchers, dinnerware, storage containers, and more, contain BPA. Epoxy resins that line the inside of metal objects and bottle tops also include the chemical. Small levels of BPA can leach into food and beverages from containers or equipment.
In the past, the industry has taken initiatives to reduce the use of BPA in container linings and plastic infant bottles. Following results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2008 showing the chemical was found in 92 percent of US individuals, and other research that revealed BPA can function in humans like the female sex hormone, estrogen, and disrupt normal development, these actions were taken.
The findings of an expert panel convened by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) demonstrate that BPA’s effects are far worse than previously thought and that humans are exposed at levels far exceeding what is considered safe. According to the EFSA panel, extremely low levels of BPA can cause a hyperactive immune system to produce out-of-control inflammation, as well as abnormalities in the ovaries, endocrine disruption, and impaired learning and memory.
«The FDA has a responsibility to protect us from harmful substances that come into touch with our food,» said Maricel Maffini, Ph.D., a scientist, and petition coauthor. «These new findings should serve as a wake-up call to the FDA and to all of us that our health is at risk unless we act quickly to minimize the amount of BPA that comes into contact with our food.»
The FDA and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have long collaborated on risk assessment and risk communication linked to food safety, including increasing knowledge of the risks posed by chemicals used in food packaging, such as PFAS. The agency now needs to pay attention to the EFSA’s concerns about BPA and take efforts to drastically minimize our exposure to the toxin.
«These findings are extremely concerning and demonstrate that even very low levels of BPA exposure can be harmful and cause issues with reproductive health, breast cancer risk, behavior, and metabolism,» said Heather Patisaul, Ph.D., of North Carolina University in Raleigh, N.C., an Endocrine Society BPA expert. «To protect public health, the FDA must acknowledge the research underlying endocrine-disrupting substances and act accordingly.»