The Food and Drug Administration has responded to a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council to ban BPA in all food packaging. The FDA’s verdict? There isn’t enough research out there to conclusively prove that BPA is unsafe in food. The agency says they’ll continue to research the issue.
BPA is a chemical found in the packaging for many products, and has already been banned in children’s products (such as baby bottles) in Canada, the European Union, China, Malaysia, South Africa, and Argentina. Eleven US states have enacted similar legislation. Australia and Japan have banned it outright.
The FDA’s decision comes despite thousands of studies demonstrating that exposure to BPA, even in minute amounts, can cause all sort of health problems. BPA is a known endocrine disruptor that’s been implicated in the development of breast and prostate cancers, reproductive abnormalities, obesity, and insulin resistance. The Endocrine Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and many other medical organizations in the US have advised that it poses a potential health threat.
The FDA has really dropped the ball here. Unfortunately, for the time being, US consumers concerned about exposure to BPA should continue buying products specifically advertised as BPA-free, and follow these simple guidelines offered by NRDC:
- Don’t use polycarbonate plastics (marked with a #7 PC) for storing food or beverages, especially if you are pregnant, nursing or the food or drink is for an infant or young child.
- Avoid canned beverages, foods and soups, especially if pregnant or feeding young children. Choose frozen vegetables and soups and broth that come in glass jars or in aseptic “brick” cartons, as these containers are BPA-free.
- Use a BPA-free reusable water bottle, such as an unlined stainless steel bottle.
- Don’t allow your dentist to apply dental sealants made from BPA (or BADGE) to either yours or your child’s teeth. Ask your dentist to provide BPA-free treatments.
Photo credit: Steven Depolo