BPA in packaging: A lucrative past, a controversial present, and a tentative future: Page 4 of 4

July 02, 2012

issue extremely closely, and remains supportive of work by government and industry on packaging alternatives that are safe for its customers. Shortly after NTP's report, Walmart vowed to stop selling baby bottles made with BPA in its U.S. stores.

Sasine said the company sells other products where BPA continues to be part of the production cycle, including some of its packaging. For example, Walmart still sells food and beverage cans that contain epoxy resins made with BPA, which are FDA approved.

Janssen believes the FDA made the wrong call when it did not ban BPA.

"BPA is a toxic chemical that has no place in our food supply," she said. "The agency has failed to protect our health and safety—in the face of scientific studies that continue to raise disturbing questions about the long-term effects of BPA exposures, especially in fetuses, babies and young children."

Opposite sides of the field
To say opinions vary greatly regarding the health effects of BPA is probably the understatement of the century. Some studies state there are no health concerns, while others claim there are a number of health effects.

For example, recent research states that even low levels of BPA can cause harm in the mammary gland, prostate tissue, and brain. In addition, some studies have found links between BPA and cardiovascular disease, obesity, and possibly diabetes.

At the same time, many regulatory bodies around the world have assessed the science on BPA and determined that BPA is safe for use in food contact products.

An international panel organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) concluded that the, "initiation of public health measures would be premature." The panel also concluded that it is difficult to interpret the relevance of studies claiming adverse health effects from BPA.

Nevertheless, many countries have opted to uphold bans of BPA in consumer products due to concerns over the potential effects of BPA exposure. For instance, France voted to ban BPA in all food containers by Jan. 1, 2014, and by Jan. 1, 2013, for food packages, materials and containers for infants and young children.

"It's not an open-and-shut case," Stanford's Feldman said. "But it makes me somewhat depressed about the idea that 20 years after our original findings, in terms of the regulatory system, everything is still relatively the same."

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