The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced March 30 its decision to reject a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)  to ban bisphenol-A (BPA) in food-contact materials.

According to Steven G. Hentges, Ph.D., of the Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group of the American Chemistry Council , “FDA's decision, which has taken into consideration the best available science, again confirms that BPA is safe for use in food-contact materials, as it has been approved and used safely for four decades. FDA has closed the book on NRDC's 2008 petition and clearly resolved that there was no scientific evidence presented that would warrant any change in the food-contact applications of BPA.

"Consumers should understand from this announcement that the position of the independent, scientific experts at FDA is that BPA continues to be safe for use in food-contact materials.  FDA is the U.S. agency that makes decisions about product safety related to food contact. FDA's scientific review is consistent with the consensus of major government agencies around the world, including the European Food Safety Authority, the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment. "

Can Manufacturers Institute reaction

The Can Manufacturers Institute released on April 2 the following statement regarding the FDA's decision: “[The] announcement by the FDA’s panel reviewing the science surrounding BPA reinforces the longstanding consensus that current regulations covering BPA protect U.S. consumers.

“By any measure, the FDA panel review was a comprehensive and exhaustive review of the existing, sound science and we believe they came to the proper, independent conclusion, devoid of the emotional rhetoric that has surrounded this issue for far too long.  After studying more than 43 foundational studies, the proper conclusion is that the current regulatory scheme is more than adequate to protect consumers.

 “Canned food and the linings contained within them protect consumers from contamination and bacteria that would endanger the food supply. Can manufacturers care about consumer health and utilize every measure to ensure that the can is of the highest quality that consumers can trust. We take the proper measures to provide packaging materials to ensure a safe food supply.  We look forward to continuing our tradition of fulfilling our important mission of providing consumers with nutritious and refreshing options.”

Dissenting voices

Other groups had sharp criticism for the decision.

"The next decision the FDA should make is to remove 'responsible for protecting the public health' from its mission statement," said Jane Houlihan, Scientist and Senior Vice President for Research of the Environmental Working Group. "It's false advertising. Allowing a chemical as toxic as BPA, and linked to so many serious health problems, to remain in food means the agency has veered dangerously off course."

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