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US infant formula makers refuse to back BPA ban petition as decision edges closer

By Mark Astley , 18-Jul-2012

IFC refuse to back BPA infant formula packaging ban petition

The International Formula Council (IFC) has refused to support the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-lodged petition that could see bisphenol A (BPA) banned in infant formula packaging in the US.

The organisation, which represents manufacturers and marketers of formulated nutritional products such as infant formula, told DairyReporter.com that BPA has “not been intentionally and permanently abandoned by manufacturers” – as suggested by the FDA-lodged petition.

Instead, the IFC has claimed that the move away from BPA-use in infant formula packaging was in response to changing consumers preferences.

The comments come just a day after the FDA filed a notice in the Federal Register calling for comments on the petition.

The petition, which was lodged by US Congressman Edward J. Markey in March 2012, is now open to public comment until 17 September 2012. After the 60 days comment period, the FDA will issue a final ruling, which could see regulations on the use of BPA in infant formula packaging change.

Changing preferences

“The International Formula Council (IFC) opposes Congressman Markey’s petition requesting the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to amend the food additive regulations to remove infant formula from the scope of permitted food contact applications for polymeric coatings and polycarbonate resins containing bisphenol A (BPA), because they have not been intentionally and permanently abandoned by manufacturers,” IFC communications specialist, Katie Christof, told DairyReporter.com.

According to Christof, BPA has been used in the manufacture of packaging materials for 40 years, and has been approved by regulatory bodies for use throughout that period.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the FDA, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and Health Canada have all determined that current BPA exposure levels are safe.

“Despite these endorsements, the infant formula industry has implemented alternative infant formula packaging options that are not manufactured using BPA in response to changing preferences of some consumers,” said Christof.

“While worldwide scientific evidence continues to support the safety of BPA, the infant formula industry has implemented alternative infant formula packaging options that are not manufactured using BPA in response to changing preferences of some consumers,”

“No infant formula manufacturer currently utilises packaging in the US that is formulated with BPA as a component of the product contact surface.”

Dangerous chemical

In March 2012, Markey lodged three separate petitions with the FDA requesting that it prohibit the use of BPA in baby and toddler food packaging, small reusable household food and beverage containers, and canned food packaging.

Markey lodged the petitions on the grounds that manufacturers have abandoned use of BPA in these products.

Earlier this week, the FDA also ruled that baby bottles and children’s sippy cups could no longer contain BPA, following a petition from the American Chemistry Council (ACC).

“There are viable alternatives for BPA in food packaging, and I urge companies to stop poisoning our food supply with this dangerous chemical. FDA now must complete and make public their long overdue assessment of BPA’s health impact and make clear its next steps for ensuring our entire food supply is free from this damaging chemical,” said a statement from Congressman Markey following yesterday’s Federal Register filing.

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