Forty-one non-profits and 19 scientists from 15 countries sent an open letter to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) this week calling for action to reduce bisphenol-A (BPA) exposure, especially in infants and pregnant mothers who are “at highest risk.”
European food safety officials are expected to release a new scientific opinion on the safety of the chemical, which is widely used to manufacture plastics and the epoxy resin lining in tin cans, in early July.
The European Commission asked EFSA to reassess the latest science on BPA exposure, and update the existing Tolerable Daily Intake, the determined level of exposure via food or drinking water that can be ingested, orally, over a lifetime “without an appreciable health risk.”
Breast Cancer UK, the non-profit that spearheaded the call to action, criticized EFSA for predominantly relying on “a handful of industry backed scientific papers” in previous assessments of the chemical’s safety.
“The letter from scientists and NGOs highlights scientific criticism in academic journals regarding these papers as compared to the “several hundred peer reviewed scientific papers have been published that have highlighted potential adverse health effects associated with BPA exposures,” said the group in a release.
The letter points to new studies that have raised flags about the potential link between BPA exposure and an increased likelihood of developing diabetes, ‘developmental programming’, and breast cancer.
Sweden’s Environment Minister, Andreas Carlgren, said in May that “If the EU will not quickly forbid the hormone disrupting substance bisphenol in baby-bottles Sweden will precede with a national prohibition.”
In June, Germany also broke EU ranks, issuing new guidance calling on “manufacturers, importers and users of bisphenol A to use alternative substances that pose less risk to human health and the environment in all areas of use that significantly contribute to exposure.” Denmark and France have both outlawed using the chemical in baby bottles.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced in January that it has “some concern” about the chemical, but is continuing to review the rapidly growing body of scientific evidence on the matter. The National Institutes of Health recently launched a $30 million research initiative to study low level BPA exposure.
As U.S. public health officials review BPA safety, a number of state and local governments are pushing for local bans.
Connecticut, Maryland, Minnesota, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin have passed bans on BPA in food and drink containers intended for children 3 and younger. Chicago and Suffolk County, N.Y., have taken similar action. Similar bills are pending in California, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.
Federal legislation to ban BPA in all food and beverage containers was introduced last March. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), sponsor of the pending legislation, has also promised to introduce the bill as an amendment to the pending Senate FDA Food Safety Modernization Act when it comes to the floor.