FDA Changes Course on BPA

February 23rd, 2010 | Sources: Washington Post


In response to mounting evidence that bisphenol-A (BPA) is associated with multiple health problems, the FDA will undertake studies of the chemical and implement some regulatory tweaks that help it act quickly if the research uncovers problems.

PickyourpoisonBPA is a ubiquitous chemical that renders plastic bottles shatterproof. It is also used to coat cans and other containers for food, and is a component of a thousand other consumer goods as well.

The substance leaches from containers into food and can be detected in the urine of 90% of Americans, regardless of age.

Recent studies have linked BPA to cancer, sexual dysfunction, diabetes, heart disease and  abnormal development in fetuses, infants and children.

“We have some concern, which leads us to recommend reasonable steps the public can take to reduce exposure to BPA,” said Joshua Sharfstein, FDA’s deputy commissioner, in a call with reporters.

But the FDA stopped short of an outright ban, saying the data doesn’t justify one. 

Instead, the agency will study BPA and change its classification from a “food additive” to a “food contact material.” The former means manufacturers don’t have to tell the Feds which products contain BPA or in what amounts. The latter requires more disclosure and facilitates a rapid response from the FDA if the stuff is found to pose a risk.

In 2008, Babies R Us and other retailers announced they would no longer stock baby bottles made with BPA. Canada and several US cities and states have already banned BPA from baby bottles.

Until Sharfstein’s announcement, the FDA had maintained that BPA was safe. Its policy was based largely on 2 studies that were funded by the chemical industry. An internal advisory panel criticized this position while calling attention to more than 100 studies that raised doubts about BPA.


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