FDA Sued for Failure to Regulate BPA

By Michelle Greenhalgh

July 6, 2010 — The Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) citing the FDA’s failure to act on a petition to ban the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in food packaging, food containers, and other materials likely to come into contact with food last week.The Natural Resources Defense Council claims that the FDA has failed to take action for over 18 months in response to an October 2008 NRDC petition (pdf), even though the organization expressed concern about the effects of early life exposure to BPA on brain and reproductive development. The council’s petition claims that existing scientific evidence is more than enough to deduce that BPA in our food supply is a human health issue. BPA is used to make polycarbonate plastics, commonly used in consumer products such as baby bottles, sippy cups, and reusable water bottles.In addition to plastics, BPA is also in the resin lining of canned food and beverages such as beer and soda cans as well as canned liquid infant formula.  Humans are usually exposed to BPA by eating contaminated food or using infant formula, eating canned food, or drinking canned beverages.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the FDA has been slow to acknowledge the current science on BPA and has been reluctant to regulate the use of the chemical in food and beverage packaging.  The group states that millions of Americans will continue to be exposed to dangerous levels of BPA on a daily basis if the FDA does not take action soon.One Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report found that over 90 percent of Americans tested were found to have residues of BPA in their blood, while other research shows that babies are being born with BPA already present in their blood, which indicates that they are being exposed through their mothers before birth.

When humans are exposed to BPA, it can act like female sex hormone, estrogen and can interfere with normal development and function of the body.  In animal studies, exposure early in life to BPA has been linked to prostate cancer, breast cancer, pre-diabetes, changes in fat metabolism, chromosome abnormalities, and changes in the way the brain develops, resulting in behavioral abnormalities.

The Natural Resources Defense Council offers the following guidelines for avoiding and reducing exposure to BPA:

1. Limit your consumption of canned food by eating fresh or frozen produce and buying processed food in “brick” cartons, pouches or glass,

2. Limit your consumption of canned soda and beer – where possible choose glass as an alternative,

3. If you have a newborn, avoid baby bottles or sippy cups made of polycarbonate (hard, clear, shatterproof) plastic.  They are marketed with the recycling symbol #7, and sometimes labeled “PC” (Not all #7 plastics are polycarbonates-the only way to know for sure is to call the manufacturer),

4. Use BPA-free reusable water bottles, such as unlined, stainless steel bottles;

5. Don’t allow children to have dental sealants made from BPA (or BADGE) applied to their teeth, and don’t have these sealants applied to your teeth while you are pregnant.  Ask your dentist to provide BPA-free treatments.