Chips and soda on the road? Who isn’t a fan? While processed junk food doesn’t make the healthiest snack, there’s a bigger health issue at hand. It turns out one of the most common food additives used in food and beverage packaging, Bisphenol-A or BPA, is potentially dangerous and could be outlawed.
Does BPA ring any bells? That’s because the FDA recently banned its use in baby bottles. Despite the baby bottle ban, however, BPA is still widely used in other food and beverage packaging. In commercial use since 1957, BPA is commonly found in cans, plastic bottles and plastic wrappers.
Numerous studies have linked BPA to dangerous health ailments like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Thanks to a bill introduced in Congress, this additive could soon be outlawed. So how does the proposed BPA ban work, and how will it affect the average consumer?
The FDA, Congress React to BPA
Manufacturers and the FDA claim that BPA is safe to use in food and drink packaging but numerous recent studies have linked BPA to various health ailments. To add to the confusion, the FDA has been doing a bit of flip-flopping on the issue. They agreed to ban the chemical from baby bottles.
As The Consumerist reports:
Since the FDA has decided there still wasn’t enough science to ban BPA from food packaging (though it later hedged on this ruling and banned BPA from baby bottles), lawmakers in Congress are having another go at a legislative effort to limit the use of BPA.”
Equally troubling, recent studies have found that close to 90% of Americans have detectable levels of BPA in their body. This is due to the chemical “leaching out of food and beverage packaging.”
Ami Gadhi, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, reports that, “BPA exposure poses serious health concerns for consumers, especially since it’s pervasive in products used by millions of consumers across the country everyday.”
Gadhi went on:
Because of these potential risks, Consumers Union believes that the chemical should be banned in all food and beverage containers. Congressman Markey’s BPA Act would help the FDA begin to address the health concerns caused by BPA exposure and would greatly reduce the potential for further exposure to BPA.”
With the proposed legislation, Congress seems to be taking a “better safe than sorry” approach. While the FDA claims the jury is still out regarding the safety of BPA, Congress is stepping in with decisive action itself.
Ban Poisonous Additives Act of 2013
If this bill evokes a bit of déjà vu, it’s because a similar ban was considered by Congress back in 2011. Despite the support of 34 co-sponsors, that 2011 legislation never passed.
This time around, however, an additional 17 members of Congress have joined the call to ban BPA through the Ban Poisonous Additives Act of 2013. With the support of 20 large consumer, environment, and health organizations, there’s a chance BPA’s days of widespread use are finally numbered.
If the legislation passes, manufacturers would need to submit a plan for eliminating the additive in their product within the year, although there would be an exemption process if the manufacturer can prove that there’s no “technologically feasable to replace BPA in the packaging or find a non-BPA replacement”.
Business that receive a 1 year waiver from the law would be required to label their product as containing BPA and include a warning about the potential adverse health effects.
This is more or less the same process that happened when BPA was banned from baby bottles. According to the Consumerist:
Last year’s BPA baby bottle “ban” by the FDA was less of a prohibition and more of a recognition by the agency that all legitimate baby bottle manufacturers had already phased out the use of the chemical in their products.”
What Do You Think?
If baby products could phase out BPA, why not do the same for all food and beverage products? Given the associated health risks, it seems better to err on the side of caution and remove this chemical from our food products.
So do you think BPA should be banned? What did you think of the “baby bottle BPA” ban? Share your opinion in the comments section.