Last week the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) announced the conclusions of its four-year review of the safety of the synthetic compound bisphenol A (commonly known as “BPA”). BPA is a component in certain beverage bottles, as well as metal can coatings. It has been utilized in food packaging since the 1960s. The FDA has determined that BPA is “safe at the current levels at which it occurs in food.”
FDA’s most recent safety study, completed in July of this year, included a review of over 300 scientific studies issued between November 2009 and July 2013. This study supplemented previous scrutiny of the chemical, completed both by the FDA and other federal agencies. The study was initiated in 2011, when public concern over the additive was quite high. Four years later, the agency has concluded that the available information supports the safety of BPA for the currently approved uses in food containers and packaging.
However, the scientific community has lingering concerns over use of the material; the same week that the FDA made its announcement regarding the safety of BPA, a new study that claimed exposure to BPA increases blood pressure was published. The North American Metal Packaging Alliance released a statement that “the comprehensive review by FDA scientists should dispel any concerns regarding the safe use of BPA epoxy resins in canned foods,” but it seems clear that concerns remain.
Government apprehension regarding the synthetic material continues, as well. The European Commission banned the use of BPA in toys this past summer and, among other state action, California listed BPA as a toxic chemical that may need to be removed from consumer products in the future. The FDA itself still has a ban of the use of BPA in baby bottles and children’s sippy cups in place, and there is currently a bill in the House of Representatives that would prohibit the use of BPA in any reusable or one-time use food containers, if passed.