News & Events

FDA to make final ruling on Bisphenol A

9 December 2011

The US Food and Drug Administration will make a final decision on whether or not the use of Bisphenol A (BPA) in packaging for food and drinks should be banned at the end of March.

The group has committed to decide by 31 March, 2012. After a three-year delay, the agency agreed to address the use of the chemical as part of a settlement reached today (Friday 9 December) with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The agreement, approved by US District Judge Barbara Jones in New York, said the FDA must issue a final decision, not a tentative response.

In 2008, the NRDC filed a petition with FDA requesting a ban on BPA in food packaging, food containers and any material likely to come in contact with food. When FDA did not respond, as required by law, NRDC sued in 2010 asking the court to require the agency to respond. Today’s settlement out of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York will require FDA to respond to NRDC’s petition by 31 March, 2012.

In October 2009, the US National Institutes of Health declared to launch a new $30m two-year study to find out the safety of the chemical used in metal can linings, plastic bottles and sipper cups.

Doug Karas, FDA spokesman, said that it was important to note that enduring safety is a continuous process. “New studies are being done all the time,” he says. “They will continue to be considered and add to the body of knowledge for decisions on BPA.”

BPA can be found in the linings of beer or soda cans, vegetable or soup cans and liquid infant formula containers as well as consumer products made from polycarbonate plastics, including reusable water bottles. Consumer demand has already driven baby bottles and sippy cups containing the hormone-disrupting chemical from store shelves, but the exposure from food packaging remains.

In 2010, FDA acknowledged it had “some concerns” about the chemical’s effects on the brain, behaviour and prostate glands in fetuses, infants and young children. The agency has supported some steps to reduce BPA exposure but has not banned the chemical’s use.

Earlier this month, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reaffirmed in its latest report that the use of BPA in food packaging applications pose no harm to human health.

What impact would a ban on BPA have on the industry? Have your say below.