Foodservice Equipment Reports

FDA Declines To Ban BPA

The Food and Drug Administration announced on March 30 that it lacks the scientific information to ban the chemical bisphenol A from being used in food packaging.

The chemical, known as BPA, is commonly used in can linings and plastic or polycarbonate food containers to help prevent the growth of germs, and to make plastics more impervious to damage. Some studies have linked it to possible health problems, including breast cancer.

In 2008, the Natural Resources Defense Council asked the FDA to ban BPA, contending in its petition that the chemical "causes serious adverse health effects." A consent agreement in an NRDC lawsuit against the agency required the FDA to decide on a ban by Saturday.

The FDA stressed that its response was not final, and that it hoped to issue a more definitive ruling on BPA later this year.

Bispenol-A has been used in consumer products for more than five decades, but its safety has become a hot debate. Among those organizations affirming that the use of BPA is safe are the Environmental Protection Agency, the European Food Safety Authority, and  the World Health Organization, which recently stated that consumer exposure to low levels of BPA do not accumulate and are rapidly eliminated from the body. Last year, however, the American Medical Association recognized BPA as an "endocrine-disrupting agent" and urged that "BPA-containing products with the potential for human exposure be clearly identified."

Many food companies and manufacturers are phasing out the use of BPA. Eleven states have banned BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups, and three of those states have also banned it from infant formula and baby food.