FDA faces calls to limit BPA in plastics that come into contact with food

A coalition of scientists, doctors and environmental groups is calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to restrict the use of the industrial chemical bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA, in plastics that come into contact with food.

In a formal petition organized by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and sent to the agency on Thursday, scientists and groups argue that the federal government should take immediate action to limit Americans’ exposure to the chemical.

“With Americans overexposed to BPA more than 5,000 times, the agency must make this a top priority and make a final decision within the legal 180-day deadline,” said Tom Neltner, EDF’s senior director for chemicals. safer, in a press release.

The petition cites findings published last month by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) which indicate that the harmful effects of BPA exposure may occur at levels 100,000 times lower than previously thought. previously.

The document states that, based on FDA estimates of exposures, average American exposure to BPA is 5,000 times higher than the new level considered safe by the European council.

“The process used by EFSA to reassess the safety of bisphenol is a model of how the FDA should do so for the hundreds of chemicals it approved decades ago. Transparent, thorough and science-based,” Neltner said.

Exposure to BPA in food can compromise the proper functioning of the immune and reproductive systems, according to the petition.

The petitioners pointed out that “without a doubt” the values ​​of BPA to which the average American is exposed “constitute a high health risk and support the conclusion that the uses of BPA are unsafe.”

The signatories demanded an expedited review by the FDA of their petition, which they say proposes changes that “are intended to significantly increase the safety of the food supply.”

Petitioners included the Environmental Defense Fund, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, Clean Water Action/Clean Water Fund, Consumer Reports, Endocrine Society, Environmental Working Group and Healthy Babies Bright Futures, as well as independent scientific consultant Dr. Maricel Maffini and Dr. Linda Birnbaum, former director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and National Toxicology Program.

“The FDA has an obligation to protect us from toxic chemicals that may come into contact with our food,” Maffini, co-author of the petition, said in a statement. “These new findings should be a wake-up call to the FDA and to all of us that our health is at risk unless we take quick action to limit the amount of BPA that can come into contact with our food.”

Among the changes included in the petition is a recommendation to the FDA to rescind approvals for BPA in adhesives and coatings intended for use in food packaging, transportation or preservation.

The same would apply to specific types of coatings used as a food contact surface in the production, manufacture, packaging, processing, preparation, treatment, packaging, transportation or preservation of food, depending on the petition.

The petition also calls for an investigation into the establishment of a tolerable daily intake of dietary BPA – basing this request on the results of the European panel’s findings in December.

“It’s time for the FDA to take immediate action to protect the public from dietary exposure to this hormone-active chemical that increases our risk of breast cancer and other serious health issues,” said petitioner Lisette van Vliet, Senior Policy Officer for Breast. Cancer Prevention Partners, said in a statement.

Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group, stressed that the FDA “must heed EFSA’s warnings and take immediate and decisive action”, noting that it is “unacceptable that the FDA allows Americans to be exposed to BPA at levels more than 5,000 times higher than safe.

Birnbaum, the former director of the NIEHS, described the European panel’s findings as “sobering” in a statement, adding that “the harmful effects of BPA can occur at minute levels, well below what we are exposed”.

“There is now more than enough scientific evidence to require strict limits on the use of BPA in packaging and plastics that come into contact with our food,” Birnbaum said.

In response to the petition, the FDA said in a statement that “there are established regulatory procedures for responding to food additive petitions once they are submitted to the agency that we will follow for all food additive petitions. food additives that we receive”.

“Therefore, it would be inappropriate for the FDA to comment on the status of the returned submission,” the agency added.

The FDA also said it is aware of EFSA’s recent draft opinion on BPA and is reviewing that document. Although the FDA has not yet completed its review of the draft advisory, the agency underscored its commitment to ensuring the safety of the US food supply.

–Updated at 12:24 p.m.

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