The Inconvenient Truth About BPA’s Safety | Commentary

Posted July 21, 2014 at 2:24pm

The North American Metal Packaging Alliance Inc. appreciates the continued focus on public health expressed by the authors of new legislation regarding food additives. However, in the case of Bisphenol A, we strongly believe the concerns of Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., and his House colleagues are misguided, and the legislation unnecessary. The proposed bill may do more to push America backward in public health than to advance consumer safety.

In their commentary, (“Ban BPA and Other Toxic Chemicals,” Roll Call, July 14) Markey and Democratic Reps. Lois Capps of California and Grace Meng of New York cited studies on BPA’s toxicity that have been considered and rejected as part of a comprehensive review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Despite their best efforts, these legislators cannot avoid the inconvenient truth that after this exhaustive review, the FDA continues to uphold BPA’s safety, stating unequivocally on its website that BPA is safe in the coatings used for food packaging. The FDA is not alone in this view. Similar comprehensive reviews of the extensive body of research on BPA completed by Health Canada, the European Food Safety Authority, Food Standards Australia and New Zealand and other international organizations have all concluded BPA is safe to use in food packaging and presents no health risk to people of any age, sex or stage of development.

It is also striking that despite their concern over the perceived dangers BPA poses, their proposed legislation makes no reference to the importance of packaging coatings for food safety, nor does it require that potential alternatives to BPA provide the same level of protection as provided by current technology.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year, 48 million Americans get sick and 3,000 die from foodborne illnesses. Yet there has not been a reported case of food illness as a result of the failure of metal food packaging in more than 30 years. This is due to the impeccable protection afforded by today’s coating technology. If Markey, Capps and Meng are truly concerned about public health, they need look no further than this unprecedented performance of metal cans in protecting our nation’s food supply.

We are also perplexed by the continued misrepresentation of the FDA’s action regarding the use of BPA in baby bottles, sippy cups and infant formula packaging. It is unfortunate that these members insist on characterizing FDA’s action as a “ban” in an attempt to support their legislation. In reality, the agency did nothing more than institute a record keeping exercise to reflect changes in the manufacturing processes, in part at Markey’s own urging. The FDA’s action was based on industry “abandonment;” wording the senator himself used in petitioning the FDA to make the regulatory change. It had nothing to do with any scientific evidence suggesting harm from BPA. As the primary author of the petition, we expect more transparency from Markey.

NAMPA continues to believe any legitimate risk-benefit analysis of legislative initiatives directed toward BPA would have to reach the conclusion that the alleged threats posed by BPA outweigh the tangible, documented success of its role in fighting food pathogens. The fact of the matter is that the actual scientific evidence prevents such a conclusion. Despite the authors’ claims, legislating a ban on BPA would not result in increased consumer safety and, in fact, may jeopardize public health.

Dr. John M. Rost is chairman of the North American Metal Packaging Alliance Inc.