The bid to pass a law banning bisphenol A (BPA) in California failed on Friday triggering a bitter backlash from it supporters who accused the chemical industry of dirty tricks in order to defeat the measure.
Bill SB 797 was unable to secure the 41 ballots it needed to pass into law after a close-run last round of voting saw a crucial 13 senators abstain. Friday’s vote took place on the day before the State Assembly went into recess, with one source telling FoodProductionDaily.com that the bill would effectively be killed for 12 months if it did not secure passage.
Lobbying tatics questioned
The measure was finally voted down after a week-long round of behind-the-scenes lobbying that has provoked fury among its supporters. Senator Fran Pavley, who sponsored the bill, accused the chemical industry of an “expensive and shamefully deceptive lobbying campaign”.
She alleged that some senators were told that food production plants in their district, such as one run by General Mills, would close if the bill was passed – even those facilities did not produce baby products.
“The chemical industry successfully used misinformation and fear tactics to kill my bill,” she said. “Unfortunately, some California lawmakers were unable to see through a web of lies fueled by greed and therefore put our children in harm’s way.”
FoodProductionDaily.com was unable to contact any representative from the US chemical industry prior to publication for a comment on the Senator’s allegations.
The bill would have outlawed use of BPA in the state from 2011 onwards in drink and food containers aimed at children. Specifically, the legislation would prohibit “the sale, manufacture or distribution of a bottle or cup or a liquid, food or beverage in a can, jar or plastic bottle that contains bisphenol A (BPA) if the item is primarily intended for children three years of age or younger”.
BPA is a chemical widely used in polycarbonate plastic baby bottles, sippy cups and the linings of some food cans. Concern among consumers and politicians over the continued use of the chemical centre on studies that show it leaches from packaging into foodstuffs – particularly after the container has been heated.
Supporters of the bill to ban the chemical said research demonstrated the substance is linked to a range of health disorders, including the onset of early puberty, obesity, birth defects and breast cancer.
However, the chemical industry has vigorously defended the safety of BPA, pointing to a “global consensus” from the world’s food safety bodies that the chemical is safe for use in food packaging. In June, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) told FoodProductionDaily.com that it had no plans to review its approval for BPA. The US Food and Drug Administration has declared BPA safe but is presently conducting a review of the chemical and will announce its findings in November.