Health advocates see triple victory in fight to take BPA out of food packaging
The FDA is set to decide on a bisphenol-A ban on all food packaging — even as French authorities ban food packaging-BPA and Campbell’s Soup announces it will soon substitute BPA in its canned soup.
It’s a triple victory for public health advocates and environmentalists long pushing for bisphenol-A (BPA) to be taken out of food packaging in the United States.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is set to decide whether it will ban the toxic chemical BPA from all food packaging, prodded by a series of legal actions from environmental groups and a recent French move to ban the chemical in all food packaging. The agency’s decision is expected by March 31.
“Recent studies provide reason for some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate glands of fetuses, infants and children,” the FDA now says on its website – a sea change from its original position that the chemical was safe.
The FDA’s move comes just as Campbell’s Soup has announced its plans to look for a safer substitute for BPA-laden epoxy in the linings of its cans, following several studies that showed people who drank canned soup accumulated high levels of BPA.
At a shareholders meeting in February, Campbell’s Chief Financial Officer Craig Owens said his company had begun the shift to BPA-free cans but didn’t announce a specific timeline or any further details of its BPA-free commitment. He did say that the move wouldn’t impose significant costs on the company.
Last year, the advocacy group Breast Cancer Fund released a report that showed that Cambell’s Soup had among the highest BPA levels among a group of canned foods it had tested. American parents were particularly concerned because the products that were most appealing to children — soups and Spaghetti-O’s with fun shapes in them — were those that also ranked highest in the study.
Also in February, in an act Forbes hailed as a “gutsy move that put the health of Europeans ahead of big-business interests,” French lawmakers voted to ban the use of bisphenol-A in all food packaging.
The new French law, which will take effect on Jan. 1, 2014, is likely to lead to an European Union- wide ban that would make it financially untenable for U.S. food manufacturers that sell into Europe to continue using BPA, the financial daily also said.
Canada has declared BPA a toxin and banned the chemical’s use chemical in baby bottles since 2007, after studies showed that baby bottles warmed in microwaves were found to release BPA into infants’ milk. The EU, Turkey and other countries also banned BPA in baby bottles in 2008. Denmark has banned the toxic chemical in all baby food products, and in Japan, the entire canning industry has since replaced its BPA resin can liners.
While the U.S. still allows BPA in baby bottles, several states like Washington, New York, Maryland, Connecticut, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Vermont have enacted state-level regulations against it, and Colorado is also working on it, according to the World Health Organization.