By Elise N. Paeffgen, Associate, Alston & Bird LLP
The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2008 to ban bisphenol A (BPA) from food packaging. FDA never responded to NRDC's petition, forcing NRDC's hand to file suit in 2010, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The court ruled in NRDC's favor, requiring FDA to review and decide on the petition by March 31st, 2012.
Last week, FDA announced it had rejected the petition and will not ban BPA from food packaging; however the FDA will continue to research BPA before making a final determination on the safety of BPA and its effects on health. The FDA said the petition "did not provide the scientific evidence needed to change current regulations." FDA spokesman Doug Karas said, "I cannot stress enough that this is not a final safety determination on BPA."
Upon receiving the FDA decision, NRDC released a statement saying: "The agency has failed to protect our health and safety - in the face of scientific studies that continue to raise disturbing questions about the long-term effects of BPA exposures, especially in fetuses, babies and young children. The FDA is out-of-step with scientific and medical research. This illustrates the need for a major overhaul of how the government protects us against dangerous chemicals."
The banning of BPA is not only a Federal issue, as 28 states have either passed or proposed legislation that would ban BPA. While FDA has rejected the petition, it is expected that there will be a continued push at the Federal level to ban BPA either through the FDA or legislation.
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