The Natural Resources Defense Council has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to force the Food and Drug Administration to ban the use of bisphenol A in food packaging, food containers, and other materials likely to come in contact with food.
NRDC filed the lawsuit June 29 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, because FDA has not acted on the petition NRDC filed in October 2008 requesting the agency to ban BPA in food packaging.
The FDA's failure to regulate this chemical in food packaging is unjustified, and so we are forced to ask the court to intervene and order the agency to take action, said NRDC attorney Aaron Colangelo in a statement accompanying the filing.
In mid-January, FDA reversed its long-held stance that BPA is safe for food-contact applications. Regulators said they were particularly concerned about BPA's effect on the development of fetuses, infants and young children. But FDA did not ban BPA or require manufacturers to label products that contain BPA, saying that there is not enough information to require that.
The American Chemistry Council disagreed that there is an immediate need for action.
In an update announced in January, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the FDA made it clear that BPA 'is not proven to harm children or adults,' the Washington-based ACC said in a statement. This is consistent with a draft assessment issued by FDA in 2008, and the scientific conclusions of many other government regulatory agencies around the world.
A number of laboratory studies have linked BPA a synthetic estrogen to birth defects, low birth weight, cancer, early puberty and other health problems in rats. However, 11 safety agencies around the world have said that BPA is safe for use in food-contact applications.
The American Chemistry Council believes that the scientific process and the public interest are both best served by allowing the FDA to complete its ongoing review of the science surrounding the safety profile of BPA, the statement said.
Six U.S. states have bans on BPA in feeding products intended for infants, and New York Gov. David Paterson is expected to sign into law a BPA ban unanimously approved by the state Legislature last week.
Vermont, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Washington, Maryland, Minnesota, the city of Chicago and four counties in New York state Albany, Schenectady, Suffolk and Rockland have BPA bans.
Canada has a ban on BPA in children's drinking containers, and the Australian government, although not reversing its stance that BPA is safe, has reached a voluntary agreement with major retailers to remove BPA-containing bottles gradually, starting July 1. U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) is seeking to enact a federal ban on BPA in food and beverage containers as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act currently under consideration in Congress.
BPA is used to make polycarbonate plastics, including baby bottles, sports bottles, reusable food and drink containers, bicycle helmets, CDs and DVDs. It is also an ingredient in the epoxy resins used to line metal cans.
The six major manufacturers of baby bottles last year agreed to stop selling PC bottles in the United States, and General Mills Corp. recently announced that it was removing BPA from its organic tomato cans. Epoxy resins, however, still are used in the lining of most canned foods and beverages, including infant formula.
BPA-free alternatives are already available and on the market. The FDA has no good reason to drag [its] feet on banning it, said Sarah Janssen, a senior scientist in the Environment and Public Health program at NRDC. The FDA should act now to eliminate this unnecessary risk.
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