Bill on Bisphenol-A expected back

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, May 28, 2010 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Last year, Senator Fran Pavley's (D-Agoura Hills) SB 797, stalled on the Assembly floor. This bill would prohibit, as of January 1, 20011, the manufacture, sale, or distribution in commerce of any bottle, cup, or liquid, food, or beverage in a can, jar, or plastic bottle that contains bisphenol A (BPA), or that is lined with a material that contains BPA at a level above 0.1 parts per billion (ppb). It would also prohibit, on and after July 1, 2011, the manufacture, sale, or distribution of liquid infant formula in a can or plastic bottle containing BPA or lined with a material containing it.

The word on the street is that Senator Pavley now intends to try to move the bill this session. This bill is another example of extreme alarmism. The consensus of the scientific community and international regulatory agencies is that BPA is safe as used.

On January 15, 2010, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) affirmed BPA "is not proven to harm children or adults."  In addition, they stated “If we thought it was unsafe, we would be taking strong regulatory action."  They urged parents to not stop using food products that include BPA. "FDA is not re commending that families change the use of infant formula or foods, as the benefit of a stable source of good nutrition outweighs the potential risk of BPA exposure."  Regarding baby bottles, they said "FDA does support the use of baby bottles with BPA."

The following 10 international agencies have assessed the science and determined that BPA is safe for food contact applications:

  • European Food Safety Authority (January 2007, July 2008, October 2008),
  • European Union (June 2008),
  • Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (February 2009),
  • French Food Safety Authority (February 2010),
  • Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (November 2008),
  • Danish Environmental Protection Agency (October 2008),
  • German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (January 2010),
  • Health Canada (October 2008, July 2009),
  • Food Standards Australia New Zealand (January 2010), and
  • Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science & Technology (Nov 2005).

To consider moving this bill at this time is premature to say the least.  Earlier this year, the National Institutes of Health announced that it will continue reviewing the safety of BPA and has appropriated $30 million in new research funding, with conclusions expected within 18-24 months.  Key research in FDA’s labs is also underway with initial results expected to be published within weeks.

There are no alternatives to BPA readily available for all applications and products.  While some canned food products utilize an alternative epoxy coating, this use is very limited.  Recently, the Can Manufacturers Institute said, "There is no readily available, suitable alternative to BPA-based can coatings that meets the essential safety and performance requirements for the broadest spectrum of all foods now packaged in metal containers."

There are more than 15,000 unique epoxy coating specifications in North America alone, each of which would require finding a viable alternative in order to replace epoxy resins.  The California fruit and vegetable/food processing canning industry produces the equivalent of 35 billion containers each year.  A political end run around scientific processes would not serve the short and long term interests of the industry, California’s economy or consumers across the country.  California accounts for nearly 40% of such U.S. production, and for many products is the sole domestic supplier to the nation.  A blanket ban on BPA based epoxy coatings for canned foods would have significant implications for the food processing industry.

California's Department of Toxics Substances Control is on track to release regulations implementing the state’s “Green Chemistry” Program this summer.  This program will create a process by which the state will identify potential chemicals of concern in consumer products, evaluate those chemicals, and implement an appropriate regulatory response – including an outright ban – if necessary.  This program was created by the Legislature so that scientists rather than politicians (who admittedly don't know one chemical from the other) will make the decisions on which chemicals in products need to be restricted and how.  To allow this bill to go through the legislature now, will undermine the value of the Green Chemistry Program.

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