The New Zealand and Australian food safety regulator’s affirmation of the safety of bisphenol A (BPA) has been welcomed by trade group, the North American Metal Packaging Alliance (NAMPA).
In its March 2009 fact sheet on BPA, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), an independent statutory agency responsible for setting food standards in the two countries, said that BPA does not cause cancer and low levels of the packaging chemical do not pose a significant health risk.
Call to legislators
John Rost, chairman of NAMPA, urged US legislators to consider this development when assessing the validity of tabled legislation in the US Senate and House of Representatives aiming to ban BPA in food and drink containers: “This is critically important information that must not be overlooked.”
FSANZ referenced reviews of BPA undertaken by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in reaching its conclusion, and it noted that estimated daily exposures of BPA in the two assessments were found to be well within the ‘safe limits’ for both children and adults.
“Some studies in laboratory animals suggest that low levels of (consumed) BPA may have an effect on the reproductive system. Similar consequences in consumers at these low concentrations are considered unlikely because BPA is rapidly inactivated and then excreted in the urine,” stated the regulator.
In response to the move by leading bottle manufacturers to stop using the packaging chemical in baby bottles, FSANZ said this was a voluntary move and not the result of any specific action by regulators:
“However, FSANZ would support the use of alternatives to BPA in baby bottles provided they are safe,” added the agency.
The regulator said that it will continue to examine reviews from regulatory agencies and papers in peer-reviewed literature, as they become available, to determine whether any further action on the packaging component is required.
Meanwhile, a recent University of Rochester Medical Center study has challenged the regulatory assumption that exposure to BPA at current levels is safe based on the fact that the human body rapidly metabolises and eliminates the substance.
The authors of the study looked at levels of the chemical in the urine of 1,469 US adults who took part in Center for Disease Control's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
While it had been thought that BPA was rapidly excreted from the body through urine, this study found people who had fasted for even a whole day still had significant levels of the chemical; the researchers said the results suggest that BPA may linger in the body longer than previously known.