Report: B.P.A. a 'routine contaminant'

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — A recently released report on Bisphenol A (B.P.A.) from the National Workgroup for Safe Markets (N.W.S.M.) fails to deliver any new science and ignores earlier assessments on B.P.A.’s safety from scientists and regulatory agencies around the world, according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

“B.P.A. has been used for over 30 years to improve the safety and quality of food and beverages, including by providing protective coatings for cans,” said Robert E. Brackett, senior vice-president and chief science and regulatory affairs officer for the G.M.A. “Scientists and regulatory agencies who have reviewed B.P.A. have concluded that B.P.A. is safe for use in these products. In particular, the European Food Safety Authority, the World Health Organization, the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology and Health Canada have found that B.P.A. is safe for use in consumer products.”

The G.M.A.’s response followed the May 18 release of “No Silver Lining: An Investigation into Bisphenol A in Canned Foods” by the N.W.S.M., a coalition of U.S. public health and environmental health-focused NGOs, including the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow, Breast Cancer Fund and the Center for Health, Environment & Justice.

In the report, the N.W.S.M. said it found B.P.A. in 46 of the 50 food and beverage cans it tested from 19 U.S. states and Ontario, Canada. The highest level of B.P.A. — 1,140 parts per billion — was detected in Del Monte French Style Green Beans from a participant’s pantry in Wisconsin. Other high scores included Wal-Mart’s Great Value Green Peas from a store in Kentucky, and Healthy Choice Old Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup from a pantry in Montana, the N.W.S.M. report found. On average, the report found the products contained 77.36 p.p.b. of B.P.A.

The E.P.A. presumes B.P.A. is safe at 50 p.p.b. per day.

The cans — typically two per location — were tested by Anresco Laboratories in San Francisco. The independent laboratory tested the food contents, not the cans themselves, for B.P.A. The cans then were homogenized and analyzed.

According to the N.W.S.M., the findings suggest B.P.A. levels in canned food “cannot be predicted by the price of the product, the quality, or relative nutrition value of the product, or where it was purchased.”

The N.W.S.M. offered several recommendations in its report, including that Congress should act to reduce B.P.A. exposure by banning the chemical in food and drink containers; can manufacturers should move quickly to identify and adopt alternatives; and Congress should strengthen and pass the Safe Chemicals Act.

“Anyone who reads this report would agree that getting B.P.A. out of food is an urgent food safety issue that demands immediate congressional action,” said Janet Nudelman, policy director at the Breast Cancer Fund. “Fortunately, the Senate has the opportunity to address this problem right now by including strong protections against food-based exposures to B.P.A. in the Food Safety Modernization Act. This is our best chance to protect Americans, especially our kids, from this toxic chemical.”

Despite the results of the study, the G.M.A. cautioned that the F.D.A. in January affirmed many assessments from global food regulators and found that foods in cans with linings that utilize B.P.A. are safe, a fact it said was ignored by the N.W.S.M.’s report on B.P.A.

“Regulatory agencies around the world have based their safety affirmation of B.P.A. on a wealth of data,” Mr. Brackett said. “In fact, there is no new science in the National Workgroup for Safe Markets’ report — all of the credible information in the report is well known to regulatory agencies and has been considered in their review and affirmation of the safety of B.P.A.

“Though robust research is ongoing to find alternatives, contrary to some reports, there is currently no replacement for B.P.A. that will work across the board for all foods and metal packaging applications, because food formulations and processing requirements differ. The consumer packaged goods industry is continually looking for new and improved technologies. But the performance of any technology that could impact the safety of food or beverages must be proven over the entire shelf life of the product before it can be widely used.

“We rely on the current and recently reaffirmed regulatory determinations by F.D.A. that foods in cans with linings that utilize B.P.A. are safe.”

Mr. Brackett said the F.D.A. is in the process of reviewing B.P.A. again and is expected to complete an updated safety assessment within the next 18 to 24 months. He also noted that the National Institutes of Health is devoting $30 million to study the safety of B.P.A.

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