The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Friday that it will not ban the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) from food packaging--including infant formula packages--even though the agency agrees the substance needs to be studied more carefully for potential health risks.
The FDA's BPA policy statement was updated to say that in response to a 2008 petition by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the agency is taking "reasonable steps to reduce human exposure to BPA in the food supply," but that it will stop short of banning its use altogether. "FDA is not recommending that families change the use of infant formula or foods, as the benefit of a stable source of good nutrition outweighs the potential risk from BPA exposure," the policy states.
Health risks associated with BPA include negative effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children.
Health policy experts are disappointed, if not dismayed, at the decision. Jeanne Rizzo, president and CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund, responded in a strongly-worded statement, "Scientists, consumers, retailers, manufacturers and the states are sending clear signals that BPA doesn't belong in our food packaging and that investment in safe alternatives is an investment in the health of the American public. Now the FDA needs to catch up. Inaction is not acceptable."
Two weeks ago, Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey submitted his own petition for a BPA ban, arguing that it is a obsolete material that is not necessary, especially given the health risks.
Image: Canned foods, via Shutterstock.