Another good reason to have a garden: BPA
WASHINGTON FDA: Food containers safe
Published: Saturday, August 16, 2008 at 4:30 a.m. Last Modified: Saturday, August 16, 2008 at 3:41 a.m. A controversial chemical commonly found in can linings, baby bottles and other household products does not pose a health hazard when used in food containers, according to a draft assessment released by the Food and Drug Administration on Friday.
The report stands in contrast to more than 100 studies performed by government scientists and university laboratories that have found health concerns associated with BPA. Some have linked the chemical to prostate and breast cancers, diabetes, behavioral disorders such as hyperactivity and reproductive problems in laboratory animals.
Exposure to the small amounts of bisphenol A (BPA) that migrate from the containers into the food they hold are not dangerous to infants or adults, the draft said.
The chemical industry and the agencies that regulate the use of BPA, the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency, have deemed the chemical safe, largely on the strength of two industry-funded studies that found no problems. The American Chemistry Council welcomed the findings of the new report. -------------- 6plastic0816.html
The American Chemistry Council welcomed the findings of the new report.
"FDA is the premier agency responsible for the safety of our food," Steven G. Hentges, an executive of the group, said in a statement. "FDA's thorough analysis confirms that food contact materials containing BPA can continue to be used safely."
FDA critic Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center for Women and Families, said the agency lacks sufficient data to declare the chemical safe.
"Clearly their effort was to minimize people being concerned about this," Zuckerman said. "It just seems that whenever there is an opportunity to look at a new important issue, they just seem to be siding with industry's point of view."
BPA, in commercial use since the 1950s, is found in many everyday items, including compact discs and automobiles. One federal study estimated the chemical is present in the urine of 93 percent of the population.
Concerns about the safety of BPA have kept the chemical industry on the defensive in recent months.
Canadian regulators recently decided to ban the controversial compound in baby products. Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer, and Toys "R" Us, the largest toy seller, have said that by January their shelves will be free of children's products containing BPA.
Democrats in Congress have introduced one bill that would ban the chemical in products intended for use by children under 8, and another that would restrict its use in food containers. Neither bill has advanced beyond the committee stage.
"Ask any mother of a child if there is an adequate margin of safety for the things that she puts her child in contact with," said Liz Hitchcock, public-health advocate for U.S. PIRG, a consumer advocacy group. "When you're talking about the stuff that's going to carry your child's food into their body, you want the safest thing possible." ----------- /
³FDA is the government agency we rely upon to assess food-contact products. They¹ve assessed this issue in great detail and their conclusion is very reassuring,² said Steve Hentges, an executive director with the council.
ŒIronic¹ conclusion
But environmental groups were quick to criticize the agency¹s conclusions, which they said relied on industry-funded studies.
³It¹s ironic FDA would choose to ignore dozens of studies funded by (the National Institutes of Health) ‹ this country¹s best scientists ‹ and instead rely on flawed studies from industry,² said Pete Myers, chief scientist for Environmental Health Sciences.
Myers said the agency disregarded recent studies of bisphenol¹s effects included in the National Toxicology Program¹s April draft report.
That group¹s review of animal studies suggested low doses of bisphenol can cause changes in behavior and the brain, and that it may reduce survival and birth weight in fetuses. A final version of the group¹s findings is expected next month.
Commenting on those studies in its 105-page assessment, the FDA said they had ³inconsistencies and inadequacies which limit the interpretations of the findings.²
About 93 percent of Americans have traces of bisphenol in their urine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And while studies have suggested the chemical can disrupt hormones in mice, the FDA concluded that the levels people are exposed to are thousands of times below what are dangerous.
The FDA released its preliminary re-evaluation ahead of a September meeting where outside advisers will debate the chemical¹s safety.
Many lawmakers at home and abroad aren¹t waiting for the agency to complete its review.
Canada has announced its intention to ban the use of the chemical in baby bottles, and state and federal lawmakers have introduced legislation to ban bisphenol in children¹s products.
Some environmental groups questioned the timing of the FDA¹s report, noting California lawmakers are expected to soon vote on removing bisphenol from children¹s products. If signed into law, it would be the first state ban of the chemical.
³For this to come out on a Friday afternoon, just before California takes action, it definitely raises some eyebrows,² said Renee Sharp, a senior analyst with the Environmental Working Group.
At least 10 states besides California are also considering bills to restrict use of the chemical.
More than 6 billion pounds of bisphenol are produced in the U.S. each year by Dow Chemical, BASF, Bayer AG and other manufacturers.

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