Scientists call on FDA to remove BPA from food packaging

key takeaways

  • On January 27, 2022, the Environmental Protection Fund filed a petition with the FDA to reconsider the removal or restriction of BPA in food contact materials
  • Studies have linked BPA to fertility problems, cancer and cardiovascular disease.
  • Currently, there are no federal regulations for BPA in food contact materials.

On January 27, 2022, several health and environmental groups filed a petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to remove or restrict bisphenol A (commonly known as BPA) from food packaging.

BPA is a compound used to make plastics. It was first approved by the FDA in the early 1960s and was deemed safe by federal agencies in 2008, despite growing scientific concerns about its safety.

A coalition of scientists, doctors and environmentalists has called for the removal of BPA due to potential health risks. Studies have shown that when consumed, BPA is metabolized in the liver, and due to their structure, they interact with endocrine receptors in the body.

“Exposure to BPA has been shown to interfere with the function of certain hormones, such as estrogen, testosterone, thyroid, and more,” Kristamarie Collman, a Florida-based board-certified family medicine physician, told VigorTip. “Moreover, they have been linked to fertility problems, cancer and even cardiovascular disease.”

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Carrie Lam, MD, medical director of Lam Clinic Integrative Medicine, also noted that exposure to BPA during pregnancy can lead to negative health outcomes. “Exposure to low levels of BPA during the first trimester of pregnancy may affect the development of brain regions associated with fear, obesity, early puberty and impulse control,” Lam said. The study also showed that BPA affected brain development in pregnant mice.

In the petition, they cite findings from the European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA), which found that the average American’s BPA exposure is 5,000 times the EU’s safe level of 0.04 ng BPA per day.

By limiting BPA exposure, the alliance writes, it will “enable the immune system to more successfully respond to exposure to human pathogens in or on food.”

Where is BPA found?

So how do we typically approach BPA? The chemical is found in common household products, including:

  • container
  • canned food
  • Any food packaged in plastic containers
  • Feminine Hygiene and Toiletries

The coalition asked the FDA to revise its current policy on BPA in products that come into contact with food, such as adhesives used in food packaging.

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The group also asked the FDA to consider removing other chemicals, such as:

  • Rosin ester
  • Phenolic Resin
  • epoxy resin
  • Glycidyl ether
  • melamine formaldehyde

These chemicals have been found in tableware. And can also lead to potentially negative health outcomes.

Current restrictions on BPA

Despite growing evidence on the effects of BPA, there are no federal restrictions on the level or amount of BPA allowed in food packaging or other consumer products. Just recently, the FDA accepted two petitions for the use of BPA in baby products and banned BPA in baby bottles, sippy cups and infant formula packaging.

Most of the current BPA restrictions are enforced at the state level, said Amy Shah, MD, a double board-certified physician in Phoenix, Arizona.

“About 15 states have their own laws restricting the use of BPA in food contact materials intended for children,” such as baby bottles and children’s products, Shah said. Some states, such as Connecticut, completely ban BPA in reusable containers.

what does this mean to you

You can learn more about BPA at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

How to avoid BPA?

Because BPA is often found in plastics, Lam recommends limiting exposure to products in plastics and canned foods. Also, “watch the label, BPA-free doesn’t necessarily mean BPS (bisphenol S)-free,” Lam said. This is because BPA-free products may still contain Bisphenol S, which is a substitute for BPA.

You can also limit your exposure to BPA by buying fresh or frozen foods in place of processed foods and “avoiding plastic containers that get hot in the microwave,” Coleman said.

Shah also recommends researching the companies you buy food and consumer products from to see if they ban BPA and alternatives outright.

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Based on what is known about BPA, scientists and doctors agree that exposure to BPA is associated with a variety of negative health conditions. The FDA is continuing to review ongoing scientific evidence about BPAs and whether they are safe. But for now, if you can, you should try to avoid them.

“Until more information is known, it’s important to take precautions to limit exposure to these chemicals, especially when preparing or preparing certain foods,” explains Coleman.