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FDA Delays Decision on BPA Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) failed to meet its deadline yesterday for an announcement on the safety of Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that is widely used in food packaging, water bottles, and baby bottles.

Dozens of studies have linked BPA exposure to a slew of health problems, including breast cancer, diabetes, reproductive abnormalities, and neurological disorders.

When asked about BPA safety before a congressional committee in June, FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg announced that the agency’s chief scientist was taking concerns seriously and would conduct a scientific review, the results of which were supposed to be announced by the end of November.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported yesterday it had sources confirming the agency needed more time to evaluate the scientific evidence before it would announce a ruling.

Last year the agency released a similar review, in response to growing consumer concern, that found BPA exposure did not pose a risk to public health. Former Associate Commissioner for Science at the FDA, Norris Alderson, told a congressional committee, “A large body of available evidence indicates that food contact materials containing BPA currently on the market are safe, and that exposure levels to BPA from these materials, including the exposure to infants and children, are below those that may cause health effects.”

The agency’s announcement met heavy criticism for relying on BPA industry-funded research, leading consumer and public health advocates to push for another review of the chemical’s safety under the new administration.

According to the Journal Sentinel, which obtained agency emails on the subject, the FDA’s announcement was heavily influenced by the industry, and “scientists relied on chemical industry lobbyists to determine the chemical’s risk, track legislation to ban it and even monitor press coverage.”

Public health officials in Canada announced that BPA hazardous to humans and banned its use in food packaging intended for children. Several states have created regulations to limit BPA exposure to infants and children.

The National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency also recently announced that each will evaluate the safety and environmental impacts of the chemical in the coming months.

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