Banning BPA has been the lynchpin of a movement by environmentalists in Maine to phase out hundreds of commonly used chemicals, which would increase manufacturing costs and raise prices for consumers.
But Health Canada, Canada’s federal department responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health, has determined that BPA does not pose a risk to consumers. As stated on its website, Health Canada’s mission is “for Canada to be among the countries with the healthiest people in the world.” Read the report here.
This story was posted September 27 on Greenwire, an online news site run by Environment & Energy Publishing in Washington, D.C., the leading source for comprehensive coverage of environmental and energy policy and markets.
By Jeremy P. Jacobs
Canada is set to reaffirm today its conclusion that the controversial plastic additive bisphenol A (BPA) is safe, granting industry a temporary reprieve from an onslaught of recent research raising questions about the chemical.
In a report to be released later today, Health Canada reiterated its August 2008 finding that current levels of BPA in products such as food cans and plastics do not pose a risk to consumers.
Further, the ministry said its study actually found that exposure levels to BPA were several times lower than the intake it estimated in 2008, according to a copy of the report provided to Greenwire by industry sources.
Health Canada “continues to conclude that current dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging uses is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and young children,” the report says.
The agency added that the finding is in line with those of other regulatory bodies around the globe, including in the United States, the European Union and Japan.
Canadian researchers reached the conclusion after studying 132 food products in 33 food categories as part of a four-year project to measure BPA in citizens of all ages. The agency also said “500 different exposure scenarios were generated” for individuals, though it was not immediately clear from the report how many people were studied.
Industry sources said the report reiterates what they have been saying all along.
“Today’s determination should put to rest once and for all any doubts as to where the Canadian government stands regarding the safety of BPA in food packaging,” John Rost, chairman of the North American Metal Packaging Alliance Inc., said in a statement. “Health Canada’s assessment is based on actual exposure among all age groups from real-life food and beverage products, and should provide reassurance to consumers everywhere that BPA in food packaging is safe.”
The finding is also consistent with the Food and Drug Administration’s March decision to reject a petition that would have banned BPA from all food packaging. FDA officials said there was inconclusive evidence that the substance poses a health risk, but said the agency would continue to study it (E&ENews PM, March 30).
Canada’s announcement, however, is unlikely to satisfy public health advocates who continue to say BPA is harmful.
And there have been a raft of recent studies raising questions about the chemical. A study released this week said exposure to BPA raised the risk of birth defects among monkeys (Greenwire, Sept. 26).
Another this month linked BPA to obesity in children (Greenwire, Sept. 18). And one earlier this year found a potential association between the chemical and breast cancer for the first time (Greenwire, May 8).
Industry leaders, however, have always raised questions about the methodologies behind those surveys, particularly whether the tests on animals accurately translate into human effects. The Health Canada study, they note, is a large-scale study of human behaviors and exposures.
Statement from the American Chemistry Council about Health Canada’s finding on BPA
In response to the release of Health Canada’s Updated Assessment of Bisphenol A (BPA) Exposure from Food Sources, which found that that BPA is safe for use in food-contact materials, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) has issued the following statement:
“Health Canada’s announcement today once again confirms that BPA is safe for use in food-contact materials,” said Steven G. Hentges, Ph.D. of ACC’s Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group. “This new assessment further indicates that consumers don’t need to be concerned with the minute exposures to BPA from food contact and should be confident in its safe use in everyday consumer products.
“Health Canada states that based on the overall weight of evidence, the experts conclude: that current dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging uses is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and young children.
“BPA is one of the most thoroughly tested chemicals in the market used today and has a safety track record of 50 years, ” said Hentges. “The consensus of government agencies across the world is that BPA is safe for use in food-contact materials. Not only has the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently reconfirmed that it is very unlikely that BPA could cause human health effects, but the European Food Safety Authority and a World Health Organization panel have also supported the continued use of BPA in products that come in contact with food.”