Eliminate BPA from food packaging, US health professionals tell the federal government

As Europe moves to ban BPA in food packaging products, the United States must follow suit, a coalition of doctors and scientists said in a petition today.

“We are asking the FDA to review the safety of BPA, remove or restrict approvals for BPA, so we are removing the overexposure that is happening right now,” said Maricel V. Maffini, consultant at the Defense Fund. environmentalist and signatory of the petition. EHN.

The petition, from a group of doctors, scientists and health and environmental organizations, follows new findings from European regulators that bisphenol-A, or BPA, may impact people’s health at levels much lower than previously thought. The European Food Safety Authority — the European equivalent of the FDA —recommended to reduce the recommended daily dose by 100,000which would more than likely mean that BPA could not be used in food contact materials.

This new “safety level” proposed by European experts is more than 5,000 times lower than what most Americans are exposed to, according to calculations by Maffini and his colleagues – and it is 100,000 times lower than safe levels. current Europeans. Now American health professionals want similar action here: Today’s petition calls on the FDA to limit BPA in food packaging and other food contact materials to less than 0.5 parts per trillion in food, which is less than today’s tests can accurately detect.

The threshold would “effectively eliminate the use of BPA,” Maffini said. “It’s about bringing exposure levels down to the lowest possible levels.”

Different conclusions on BPA

BPA is an ingredient used in polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins – added to everything from Tupperware to liners in cans and bottle caps. It is also used in thermal receipt paper. It can escape from plastic and get into food; and virtually every human being tested on the planet has BPA in their blood. The chemical is an endocrine disruptor, meaning it alters the proper functioning of our hormones and is linked to a host of health issues including cancer, diabetes, obesity, effects on the reproductive system, nervous and immune and behavioral problems.

The FDA maintains that BPA is safe to current levels migrate into food. However, in 2019, EHN.org investigated this agency’s handling of current BPA science and found a regulatory push to discredit independent evidence of harm while promoting pro-industry science despite significant shortcomings.

When asked how the FDA and regulators at the equivalent European agency, known as EFSA, could come to such different conclusions about the safety of BPA, Maffini said the two agencies’ assessments were very different.

“EFSA followed a very systematic process, a very transparent process,” Maffini said. “They evaluated all available studies since 2013 – academic studies, industry-backed studies, FDA and NTP [National Toxicology Program] studies – they evaluated everything.

The European agency then looked at human data on how the body processes BPA and determined the most sensitive parameters, including the immune system, ovaries and nervous system.

“They really combed through all the studies and justified the sensitive endpoints, and justified the ones they didn’t think were as sensitive,” Maffini said.

The FDA didn’t follow the same process, Maffini said, adding that in its most recent comprehensive review of current regulations, the agency primarily looked at toxicology studies, which miss much of the impacts of endocrine disruptors because they don’t. behave like traditional toxins.

The petition “does not ask the FDA to adopt what EFSA did,” Maffini said. Instead, “we present the evidence published by EFSA, and say to the FDA, ‘look, it looks like the safe dose is extremely low.'”

More than enough evidence to limit BPA

The petition was filed by Environmental Defense Fund, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, Clean Water Action/Clean Water Fund, Consumer Reports, Endocrine Society, Environmental Working Group, Healthy Babies Bright Futures, Dr. Maricel Maffini and Dr. Linda Birnbaum, former director . from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program.

“The scientific evidence is now more than sufficient to require strict limits on the use of BPA in packaging and plastics that come into contact with our food,” Birnbaum said in a statement.

The FDA has a few weeks to respond to the petition and decide whether to file it or not. If they are filed, they will then be required to complete an assessment justifying whether or not they will accept the petition’s suggestions.

Meanwhile, in Europe, EFSA’s draft rules are open for public comment until February 22, 2022. You can comment on the BPA health standards here on EFSA’s “public consultations” page.

Banner photo credit: Terry Chay/flickr

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