California Assembly terminates BPA as spotlight falls on Schwarzenegger

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food contact materials

A bill to ban bisphenol A (BPA) in food contact materials for children aged three and under has been passed by the California state Assembly with the Senate expected to follow suit.

But supporters of the legislation expressed concern that the chemical industry would now seek to pile pressure on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to veto the measure. They described yesterday’s vote as “a major blow to the chemical and pharmaceutical industries”​ and said the sectors had “waged an intense lobbying campaign to defeat the bill”.​ One US media report claimed the industries spent US$5m lobbying state politicians.

“The Assembly voted on the side of science and children’s health,”​ said Gretchen Lee Salter, policy manager at the Breast Cancer Fund, which co-sponsored the bill with Senator Fran Pavley, D-Santa Monica.

The sponsors said while they were “heartened”​ by the success of the measure in the Assembly, they feared “that industry will now focus its attention and resources on pressuring the governor to veto it”.

Global packaging controversy

The continued use of the substance in plastic baby bottles and sippy cups, as well as in the lining of infant formula cans and food and beverage can linings is the most contentious global issue in food packaging today.

Anti-BPA campaigners point to a growing body of around 200 research studies linking the chemical to a range of serious health problems, including cancer, heart disease and reproductive problems. Consumer and scientific concern is fuelling action against the substance throughout the world, with Denmark and France unilaterally banning its use for food contact materials for young children and Australia announcing this week that a string of major retailers had voluntarily agreed to phase out its use.

In the US, BPA has been banned from baby bottles and children’s sippy cups in Connecticut, Maryland, Minnesota, Washington, Wisconsin, and Vermont, four counties in New York and the city of Chicago. Connecticut and Vermont have restricted the use of BPA in baby food and infant formula. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has introduced legislation in the Senate that would ban BPA in infant food packaging, in addition to other food and beverage containers.

Industry bodies stress that the major food safety agencies across the globe – including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) - currently endorse its use. Both bodies are, however, currently reviewing their opinion.

A US environmental body this week launched a lawsuit against the FDA alleging that is has failed to act on its concerns over theeffects of the chemical. The American Chemistry Council responded by saying it believed the “scientific process and the public interest are both best served by allowing the FDA to complete its ongoing review of the science surrounding the safety profile of BPA”.

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

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