The Food And Drug Administration (FDA) this week said it may revise its regulations to outlaw the use of BPA in infant formula following a petition from Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.).
The request, sent in March 2012, called on the federal agency to ban BPA - not on health grounds but because manufacturers have abandoned use of the controversial substance in these products.
In a letter sent to Markey earlier this month, the FDA’s Vanee Komolprasert confirmed that it would be adopting the petition to change “food additive regulations in 21 CFR §175.300 (resinous and polymeric coatings) to no longer provide for the use of Bisphenol A-based epoxy resins as coatings in packaging for infant formula based on your assertion that these uses have been permanently and completely abandoned”.
The notice said the FDA would file the petition in the Federal Register within 90 business days and review any comments made during that time. After this period, the body could then overturn current law so that BPA can no longer be used in infant formula packaging.
“This will be the first time the FDA initiated a rule change for infant formula and use of BPA”, said Markey.
Identical petitions calling for a BPA ban in packaging for canned food and beverages and small reusable household containers were rejected by the FDA because it found the substance was still being used by industry.
Better corporate citizens
But Markey said the petition acceptance should only be the start of wider action by industry and regulators.
“Now that the FDA is moving forward with my petition, industry practice can follow consumer demand and we will be able to close the door on the use of BPA in infant formula forever,” said the Congressman. “Accepting this petition is a good start, but there are many industries that are ignoring consumer concerns and continuing to poison our food supply with this dangerous chemical.”
Markey declared that viable BPA alternatives for food packaging were available. He urged companies to be “better corporate citizens” and called on the FDA to “complete and make public their long-overdue assessment of BPA’s health impacts, and make clear their next steps for ensuring our entire food supply is free from this damaging chemical”.
BPA is used in a range of food packaging applications, including the epoxy linings of food and beverage cans. Its continued inclusion is a matter of fierce debate – with opponents citing scientific studies linking the substance to a slew of adverse health effects. However, food safety agencies across the world have declared it poses no health risk at specified levels.