FDA denies petition to ban bisphenol A

The FDA says it won't ban bisphenol A (BPA), which is used in plastic bottles and other items, for now but also says a final safety determination is yet to come.
(David McNew/Getty Images)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administrationannounced Friday that it will not ban the use of bisphenol A, also known as BPA, in food packaging.

[For the record: In an earlier version of this post, the Natural Resources Defense Council was misidentified as the National Resources Defense Council.]

In a 12-page letter,David H. Dorsey, FDA acting associate commissioner for policy and planning, wrote that the the Natural Resources Defense Council, which had petitioned the agency to change its regulations on use of the chemical, had not provided sufficient scientific evidence to change the current regulations.


At the same time, FDA spokesman Douglas Karas noted that “this is not a final safety determination on BPA.”

BPA is used in plastic bottles, the linings of cans and on cash register receipts. It can disrupt the endocrine system, so health officials — not to mention environmentalists — are concerned that it may cause reproductive problems, diabetes and other health problems.

Concerns about the chemical’s effects on health have already led some corporations to stop using BPA in bottles, sippy cups and other products for children.

Linda S. Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health, told The Times that her “concerns have not been alleviated by the research that has gone on in the last couple of years” and that her agency is continuing to fund further studies.

But, she said, a lot of questions about BPA remain, including the extent of the problems it may pose. And she cautioned that regulators wouldn’t want to ban BPA until they were sure that whatever replaced it wouldn’t be worse.