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The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), faced with a series of legal actions from environmental groups, is poised to decide whether to move toward barring the toxic chemical bisphenol-A from food packaging.
The agency’s decision is expected by March 31.
Five years have passed since Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) groundbreaking 2007 study showed that BPA leached from epoxy linings of cans into surrounding food and drink. EWG’s tests showed the highest concentrations of the chemical, a synthetic estrogen, in canned soup, pasta and infant formula.
“FDA is the only agency with the power to protect consumers from being exposed to BPA from the food they eat,” said Sonya Lunder, senior research analyst for Environmental Working Group. “Let’s hope the agency’s upcoming decision will keep the public’s health at the forefront.”
A second EWG study in 2007 showed that 1 in 16 formula-fed infants were being exposed to levels of BPA toxic to animals in research studies.
Because BPA has been shown to disrupt the hormone system, EWG has repeatedly called on FDA to order it removed from food and beverage packaging, starting with infant formula.
The FDA decision comes as Campbell’s Soup has announced its intention to seek a safer substitute for BPA-laden epoxy in the linings of its cans.
“If one of the world’s largest food suppliers and users of BPA in its packaging feels it should move away from using it, maybe the federal health agency charged with protecting people from contaminated food will follow suit,” Lunder said.
The prevalence of BPA in the environment and in people was underscored by 2009 tests commissioned by EWG and Rachel’s Network that detected BPA for the first time in the umbilical cord blood of 9 of 10 American newborns.
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