FDA shifts stance on safety of BPA in plastics

Scientists link BPA in plastics to heart disease
Wow. No sooner do I post a blog in which I say, “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering whether any action needs to be taken (about BPA). And I would expect them to express a more cautionary tone in the future. There’s just too much evidence now to not do so,” than the FDA announces a reversal of its position.

In a front-page story, the New York Times reported, “In a shift of position, the Food and Drug Administration is expressing concerns about possible health risks from bisphenol-A, or BPA, a widely used component of plastic bottles and food packaging that it declared safe in 2008.”

The FDA is now saying it has “some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children.”

While the agency plans to “join other federal health agencies in studying the chemical in both animals and humans,” federal “officials said there was no proof that BPA was dangerous to humans.” FDA principal deputy commissioner Dr. Joshua Sharfstein said, “If we thought it was unsafe, we would be taking strong regulatory action.”

Dr. Sharfstein explained, “We have some concern, which leads us to recommend reasonable steps the public can take to reduce exposure to BPA,” the Washington Post added. “Sharfstein said the agency is conducting ‘targeted’ studies of BPA, part of a two-year, $30 million effort by the administration to answer key questions about the chemical that will help determine what action, if any, is necessary to protect public health.

The Los Angeles Times noted that the “FDA action, which was praised by industry officials and criticized by some food safety and consumer watchdog groups, comes after more than a year of controversy.”

USA Today reported that, along with the increased research, the FDA is “encouraging manufacturers to stop making baby feeding products containing BPA” and “wants to help manufacturers to find safer materials to line metal cans of liquid baby formula.”

The FDA “also is looking into ways to expand its authority to regulate BPA, in case scientists do find definitive evidence of harm, says Joshua Sharfstein.”

The Boston Globe reported that in precautionary recommendations, HHS suggested consumers “throw away scratched cups and bottles with Bisphenol A because small amounts of the chemical can seep out and be ingested by children.” Deputy HHS Secretary William Corr said, “Recent reports show subtle effects of BPA in lab animals that has raised concerns.”

In its report, CBS News correspondent Kelly Wallace asks University of Missouri professor Fred Vom Saal, “How convinced are you that elevated levels of BPA in people’s bodies can lead to cancers, heart disease, obesity and early puberty?”

Vom Saal replied, “I and other colleagues of mine at an NIH (National Institutes of Health) meeting said, with a very high level of confidence, we think Bisphenol A is a threat to human health.”

Here are a couple of my past blogs on BPA: