ACC: Endocrine Society statement ‘disregards state of science’

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Bisphenol A (BPA) is used in food can linings
Bisphenol A (BPA) is used in food can linings

Related tags: Endocrine disruptor

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) has said the Endocrine Society’s claims of evidence tying endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) to diabetes and obesity risks ‘disregards the state of science’.

EDCs mimic, block or interfere with the body’s natural hormones and can alter the way cells develop and grow, according to the Endocrine Society.

The organisation said additional research from a 2009 report has found exposure is associated with increased risk of developing diabetes and obesity​.

Mounting evidence also indicates EDC exposure is connected to infertility, hormone-related cancers, neurological issues and other disorders, it added.

EDCs include bisphenol A (BPA) found in food can linings, phthalates in plastics and cosmetics, flame retardants and pesticides.

The French Constitutional Council lifted the ban on manufacture and export of BPA-based food contact materials this month but it remains in place for items sold in France. FoodQualityNews is waiting for response from PlasticsEurope and EMPAC and will run a separate story when they respond.

ACC said the statement by a ‘limited group of Society members’, disregards the state of the science on the effects of chemicals on the endocrine system and makes ‘broad, unsupported claims’ about relationship between certain chemicals and disease.

“The statement incorrectly characterizes as settled, the still-unproven hypothesis regarding risks of low levels of exposure to particular chemicals,” ​it said. 

“In doing so, the society discounts the extensive reviews by experts at the US Environmental Protection Agency and the European Food Safety Authority that were unable to substantiate the health significance of the so called low-dose effects, and questioned the validity of the non-monotonic hypothesis. 

“Furthermore, the Endocrine Society’s report fails to differentiate between chemicals that are ‘endocrine-active,’ meaning they interact with the endocrine system, and those that are ‘endocrine disruptors,’ meaning that the levels of exposure associated with that interaction cause scientifically-proven adverse health effects.”

Action to minimise exposure

The Endocrine Society called for additional research to infer cause-and-effect relationships between exposure and health conditions, regulation to ensure chemicals are tested for endocrine activity, including at low doses, prior to being permitted for use and “green chemists” and other industrial partners to create products that test for and eliminate potential EDCs.

The statement comes as society experts are addressing the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4), in Switzerland, on using scientific approaches to limit health risks of EDC exposure.

ACC said the chemicals industry is supporting research to boost scientific understanding of the way chemicals interact with the endocrine system using validated screening tools, tests and methods. 

“The industry’s Long Range Research Initiative has developed cutting edge screens and tests to support these efforts and has made substantial contributions to the development of high throughput tools that can be used to prioritize and screen chemicals at a much faster pace than traditional methods,” ​it said.

“Industry has been an active participant in the US EPA program and has submitted data and analysis on test-method development and chemicals for use by regulators to determine whether chemicals activate the endocrine system and if so, whether they cause adverse health effects due to that interaction.” 

School lunch concerns

Meanwhile, school meals may contain unsafe levels of BPA, according to a study in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology​.

"During school site visits, I was shocked to see that virtually everything in school meals came from a can or plastic packaging,​" said Jennifer Hartle, a postdoctoral researcher at the Stanford Prevention Research Center.

"Meat came frozen, pre-packaged, pre-cooked and pre-seasoned. Salads were pre-cut and pre-bagged. Corn, peaches and green beans came in cans. The only items not packaged in plastic were oranges, apples and bananas."

Researchers interviewed school food service personnel, visited school kitchens and cafeterias in the San Francisco Bay Area and analyzed studies on BPA food concentration values finding exposure varied depending on what students eat.

Elementary school students having pizza and milk with fresh fruits and vegetables would take in minimal levels. But a student consuming pizza and milk with canned fruits and vegetables could take in anywhere from minimal levels to 1.19 micrograms of BPA per kilogram of body weight per day.

Students who consume the maximum amount would take in more than half of the dose shown to be toxic in animal studies (2 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day) in one meal.

However, the Center for Accountability in Science said the levels of BPA exposure estimated are nowhere near “toxic levels.”

CAS cited EFSA’s opinion this year​ saying “BPA poses no health risk to consumers of any age group” and the agency’s tolerable daily intake level set at 4 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day.

“While the study’s lead researcher said she was “shocked to see that virtually everything in school meals came from a can or plastic packaging,” it’s shocking she would assume school meals were prepared any other way.

“Cans and plastic packaging are among the best ways for schools to provide children with a variety of fruits and vegetables and avoid spoilage.”   

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

Related news

Follow us


View more