No ban on BPA … yet

The FDA announced on Friday that it will not ban the use of bisphenol A, or BPA, in food packaging but said it will continue research on the health effects of the widely used chemical, reports the Los Angeles Times.


Although it rejected a petition by Natural Resources Defense Council to outlaw the compound in food and beverage containers, the agency did not close the door on future regulation. "This is not a final safety determination on BPA," said FDA spokesman Douglas Karas. "There is a commitment to doing a thorough evaluation of the risk of BPA."


Scientific evidence presented "was not sufficient to persuade" the agency to prohibit BPA in food packaging, said the FDA. Dosing methods in some research studies, for example, did not reflect how a person would ingest the chemical, the agency said. And it also took issue with sample sizes, which it said were not large enough to provide confidence in results.


"FDA is performing, monitoring and reviewing new studies and data as they become available, and depending on the results, any of these studies or data could influence FDA’s assessment and future regulatory decisions about BPA," wrote David Dorsey, the agency’s acting associate commissioner for policy and planning.


Steven Hentges of the American Chemistry Council, a trade group that represents manufacturers, said in a statement that the FDA decision "again confirms that BPA is safe for use in food-contact materials, as it has been approved and used safely for four decades."


BPA is used to manufacture polycarbonate plastic for shatter-resistant food containers, sports safety equipment, eyewear and other products. It is used in epoxy resin as a protective coating for food and beverage packaging to prevent it from reacting with the contents. And it is present on many types of sales receipts, from which it rubs onto people’s hands. Manufacturers have stopped using BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups sold in the U.S. because of customer concerns and bans in some states. The chemistry council has petitioned the FDA to prohibit use of the chemical in those products to create a national standard, said Hentges.