The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is pushing back its final decision on the safety of bisphenol-A (BPA), an increasingly controversial chemical widely used in food and beverage containers.
The agency announced last week it will take an additional month to review existing research on the chemical before presenting its opinion to the European Commission. According to Food Production Daily, it will be up to the commission to decide whether to implement a ban or not.
A growing body of research has linked low-level exposure to BPA to disruptions in the endocrine system, which can cause reproductive, neurological, and behavioral problems.
Controversy over BPA was kicked into high gear in Europe in April when a coalition of leading scientists from the U.S., Britain, and Italy urged the UK to ban the chemical in all containers intended for children on the heels of a new study indicating a link to health concerns.
“To protect vulnerable populations, we believe it would be both prudent and precautionary in public health terms if products containing BPA used for baby and children’s food and liquid packaging in the UK were withdrawn,” the coalition wrote in a letter published in The Independent. “BPA should be replaced by less hazardous substances.”
Last week, France joined Denmark and Canada in banning BPA in food and beverage containers intended for small children, though if the European Food Safet Authority rules the Danish risk assessment–upon which the ban is based–is not sound science the country may have to reverse its ban.
Vermont also recently joined a growing list of U.S. states–Connecticut, Minnesota, Washington, Wisconsin, and Maryland–with similar bans in place. Twelve states are currently considering BPA regulations, including California.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to make a final decision on whether low level exposure to BPA is a threat to public health, though it did announce in January that it has “some concern” about the chemical. Similar to the European Food Safety Authority, FDA announced it needed more time to review the body of research on the chemical.