FDA Holds Off On Final BPA Decision

Chemical structure for bisphenol A (BPA)

Chemical structure for bisphenol A (BPA) via NC Health News

Recently we posted about new research on endocrine disruptors  and urged our readers to sign a petition circulated by Environmental Working Group to encourage the FDA to ban the chemical BPA (bisphenol A) from food packaging.

The FDA was required to respond by the end of March to a petition submitted in 2008 by the Natural Resources Defense Council asking for a ban.  The FDA’s much- awaited announcement turned out to be a non-decision.  As Jeanne Rizzo of the Breast Cancer Fund summarized at the Huffington Post:

The FDA said it “has determined, as a matter of science and regulatory policy, that the best course of action at this time is to continue our review and study of emerging data on BPA,” and that “this announcement is not a final safety determination and the FDA continues to support research examining the safety of BPA.”

What should we expect next?

Many companies, including Trader Joe’s and Campbell’s Soup, recognizing the public’s increasing awareness of and desire to avoid BPA, have begun to phase it out of their product packaging already.

And research into the effects of BPA is ongoing. Said Professor Heather Patisaul of UNC State, whose lab is currently doing research on BPA for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences:

The BPA controversy illustrates how badly we need a more nimble risk assessment strategy for endocrine disrupting chemicals.

Eleven states and several nations – most recently China – have already placed restrictions on food applications of BPA, so while some commenters supported the FDA for taking no regulatory action, others are convinced that it’s just a matter of time.