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FDA could delay decision on bisphenol A

By Rory Harrington , 30-Nov-2009

The US government ruling on the safety of bisphenol A (BPA), due to be delivered later today, could be delayed as officials plead for more time to review the wealth of scientific evidence on the chemical.

At the start of June, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it would review its advice that BPA was safe for use in baby bottles and food containers. The agency pledged to deliver its verdict within “weeks not months”. More than two months later the body said it would present its findings by the end of November.

Less than two weeks ago, FDA spokesman Sebastian Cianci told FoodProductionDaily.com the FDA still planned on “providing an update on the agency's position on BPA by November 30”.

Possible delay

However, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported today it had received information that the food safety body was likely to announce a hold-up, saying it needed more time to evaluate hundreds of studies detailing the effects of the substance.

The FDA launched its review after coming under intense pressure for basing its original opinion that the substance posed no health threat when used in food packaging on a handful of studies sponsored by the chemical industry. The agency’s science board ordered the re-assessment on the basis the organisation had failed to consider sufficient research before reaching its conclusion.

BPA, used in the manufacture of polycarbonate and other plastics, has been linked to cardiovascular disease and diabetes in humans and disrupted reproductive development in animals. The chemical is commonly found in drinking bottles, baby bottles and sipper cups as well as dentistry composites and sealants and in the lining of aluminum food and beverage cans.

Anxiety over BPA

Anxiety over the continued use of the chemical in food packaging has increased recently, with a number of US states independently banning its use in baby bottles and children’s sippy cups. Last year, Canada became the first country to ban the import and sale of BPA for use in food packaging most commonly used by children.

BPA-manufacturer Sunoco announced it would only sell the substance to companies that guaranteed not to use to produce baby bottles. Study findings that raise concerns about the presence of BPA in food through leaching from containers and the effects of exposure have continued to make headlines.

However, the American Chemistry Council has re-affirmed its belief in BPA’s safety, and pointed out that the food safety bodies throughout the world back its use. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) told FoodProductionDaily.com recently that it had no plans to reconsider its opinion that BPA was safe for use in food contact materials.

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