Despite stinging criticism from a subcommittee of its own Science Board, the Food and Drug Administration said it has no plans to change its stance on bisphenol A or call for a ban.
In a letter to its advisory board Dec. 16, FDA said it did not believe it had enough data to propose a regulatory ban and said instead that it planned ``a large research effort'' that could possibly last years to assess the effects on BPA on laboratory animals.
``FDA is planning to conduct these studies in its laboratories using a representative dose range and multiple animal models,'' said the letter signed by Norris Alderson, associate commissioner for science at the FDA. The agency said the study will examine the cumulative exposure a person faces from a variety of items that contain BPA, including food and beverage containers, coatings on gel tablets and plastic medical devices such as tubing.
FDA's present position on BPA is based largely on two studies funded by the chemical industry.
The subcommittee issued a report Oct. 28 that said that FDA's position that BPA is not harmful ignores critical studies and that the margins of safety the agency defines as adequate ``are, in fact, inadequate.'' FDA also has been under pressure from Congress to regulate BPA.
The Natural Resources Defense Council petitioned FDA on Oct. 21 to ban the use of BPA in food packaging, and the attorneys general of New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware sent letters Oct. 15 to 11 manufacturers of baby products, asking them to stop using BPA in their baby bottles and other infant products.
In April, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. stopped selling baby bottles, sippy cups, pacifiers, food containers and water bottles containing BPA in Canada. Both Wal-Mart and Toys R Us have said they will stop selling baby bottles that contain BPA in the U.S. sometime next year.
Energizer Holdings Inc.'s Playtex Infant Care unit and Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., the maker of Nalgene sports bottles, have stopped using BPA in their new products.
Additionally, San Francisco supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier introduced a resolution Oct. 15 asking stores and hospitals in the city to voluntarily pull baby bottles made with BPA off their shelves. Safeway Stores Inc. has agreed to that request. Whole Foods Market, another supermarket chain with stores in San Francisco, has not sold baby bottles that contain BPA since 2006.