A leading US lawmaker has petitioned federal authorities to ban the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in all canned products and reusable food and beverage packaging on the grounds that many manufacturers have stopped using the chemical.
Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) made his call in three petitions lodged with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the wake of a proposal by the American Chemistry Council for a limited ban on the use of BPA in polycarbonate baby bottles - which he said inadvertently opened the door for a fuller veto on the substance.
Markey, a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee – which has jurisdiction over the FDA – urged the agency to “permanently remove regulatory approval for the use of BPA in infant formula and baby and toddler food packaging, small reusable household food and beverage containers, and canned food packaging on the grounds that manufacturers have stopped using BPA in these products”.
Last month, the ACC, trade body for BPA producers, asked the FDA to ban the use of the chemical in polycarbonate bottles and sippy cups in a bid to make it clear to consumers the chemical is no longer used by industry players.
However, Markey appears to be using this as a lever to push for a widespread ban in a move that is likely to infuriate ACC members.
Noting that the FDA had opened a comment period for the ACC proposal on BPA, Markey added: “Although the Petitioner [Markey] concurs with the goals of this petition, the Petitioner also believes the rationale used in the ACC petition can be extended to support a prohibition on BPA in other small reusable household food and beverage containers”.
Markey contends that BPA is no longer used for the purpose that it was originally granted federal approval for and should therefore be outlawed in food packaging. He added the exclusion of the chemical in baby bottles had triggered a move by other food manufacturers to begin or completely phase out its use.
The success of polycarbonate baby bottle producers to find BPA alternatives, means that replace of the substance in other food packaging could “easily and economically be accomplished”, he said in his petition.
Prior to submitting to lobbying the FDA, Markey said he surveyed all major manufacturers of infant formula and baby and toddler food (five companies), small reusable household food and beverage containers (seven companies), and canned food and beverages (26 companies) in order to determine their current use of BPA in packaging.
Manufacturers of infant formula and toddler food and producers of reusable food and beverages containers confirmed they were either phasing out its use or had never used it, said a statement from Markey.
“Of the canned food and beverage companies who responded, all reported that the use of BPA in packaging had ended or the companies had begun phasing out its use,” he added, without specifying the number of respondents.
Recently, food giants Campbell Soup Co and Crown Prince said they were both phasing out the use of BPA in their packaging. An industry insider told FoodProductionDaily.com that Campbell would likely complete its phase out by 2015.
Markey said he submitted the petitions because of a growing body of researchers have found BPA that leaches from containers into food and beverages has been linked to a host of health problems, including cancer, reproductive dysfunction and heart disease.
However, all major food safety agencies have said the chemical poses no health concerns in food packaging at current levels.
“Industry practice, fuelled by consumer demand, has led to the development of alternatives for BPA in these household products, and these petitions to FDA should close the door on the use of this dangerous chemical in food and beverage containers forever,” said Markey.