This summer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the controversial chemical bisphenol A (BPA), though consumer concern had already prompted many companies to drop BPA from both food and beverage containers. BPA was a standard component in the plastics that made up baby bottles and sippy cups. Studies suggest that repeated exposure to BPA, a chemical with hormone-like properties, can negatively affect infants and young children in their brain development, behavior and in the formation of the prostate gland in fetuses.
BPA has been phased out so thoroughly that the American Chemistry Council (ACC) filed a petition in 2011 calling for an end “approval” by the FDA for BPA, as they feel it is a nonissue. While consumer advocates applaud the FDA’s ban on BPA, there has been concern that it has not been banned in food packaging across the board.
According to Sara Janssen, senior scientist for the National Resource Defense Council’s public health program, the FDA banning was a less than committed effort. “To truly protect the public,” she said in a statement, “the FDA needs to ban BPA from all food packaging. This half-hearted action—taken only after consumers shifted away from BPA in children’s products—is inadequate. The FDA continues to dodge the bigger questions of BPA’s safety.”
The concern about BPA is that it can be consumed inadvertently by leaching into our food and water from the containers holding food and beverages and from plastic tableware, among other things. BPA may leach more readily from some containers more than others, based on the heat of the food or beverage and other factors.
The Federal Drug Administration holds that low levels of BPA, as are currently present in food packaging, do not present a health risk. Currently, Bisphenol A is banned in most consumer packaging in a dozen states including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.