Again this year, legislation has been proposed in California – SB 797 (Pavley) – to ban consumer products such as baby bottles, sippy cups, canned infant formula and baby food that contain trace levels of bisphenol A (BPA). As in past attempts, this legislation is unwarranted and sets a bad public policy precedent by ignoring the many recent safety evaluations by government bodies around the world. The global regulatory consensus has concluded that BPA is safe for use in consumer products, including products for infants and children.
We share Senator Pavley’s goal of protecting children’s health, but a legislative end-run around established scientific processes is unlikely to achieve that goal. As recently as February, the FDA stated: ‘With regard to BPA generally, based on all available evidence, the consensus of regulatory agencies in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan is that the current levels of exposure to BPA through food packaging do not pose an immediate health risk to the general population, including infants and young children.’
Contrary to popular myth, FDA’s conclusions are based on the full weight of scientific evidence after their review of hundreds of studies from all sources, not just a few industry-funded studies as claimed. Likewise, government bodies in Europe, Canada and Japan have comprehensively reviewed the science and have reached similar conclusions. Just within the last few months, regulatory agencies in France, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand all have issued statements concurring with the global consensus on the safety of BPA.
Last year, NSF International, a not-for-profit public health and safety organization, published its comprehensive safety assessment that was led by a respected scientist with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). Based on its independent analysis, NSF set a safe intake level for BPA very comparable to the level recently established by the European Food Safety Authority, providing further support for the global consensus on the safety of BPA.
With a safety track record spanning more than 50 years, BPA is one of the best tested substances in commerce. Shatter-resistant polycarbonate plastic, made from BPA, is used in a wide array of common consumer products ranging from eyeglass lenses to CDs and bicycle helmets to baby bottles. Epoxy resins are used as the protective coating in most food and beverage cans, as well as the metal lids on glass jars, to help protect the safety and integrity of our food supply. BPA has been vetted thoroughly by government bodies worldwide.
Recently, President Obama called for a renewal of scientific integrity, stating “science and the scientific process must inform and guide decisions…”’ We agree, and urge California stakeholders, legislators and policy makers to support science-based public policy decisions.
Assessing chemical and product safety is an undertaking that requires deep scientific expertise and rigorous analysis. For this reason, the California Legislature last year adopted what may be the world’s most comprehensive chemical management regulatory program for consumer products. This “Green Chemistry Initiative” provides authority to DTSC and other state agencies to assess chemicals in consumer products and initiate regulatory action, including bans, if deemed necessary.
DTSC is moving expeditiously to implement the Green Chemistry Initiative. The members of the new Green Ribbon Science Panel have been named and regulations are due out later this year. If there is a need for further scientific review of BPA in California, this open and transparent process will provide what is needed to protect the health of all Californians.
Our member companies – whether they manufacture BPA or use BPA to make consumer products – remain committed to public health and safety. We have and will continue to develop scientific data to inform credible, transparent scientific assessments of BPA so that the public can have the confidence it deserves in the safety of these products.