Bisphenol A Policy on the Horizon
There has been some disagreement on the how dangerous Bisphenol A contained in food packaging is. This may be the result of Industry groups who have actively been denying the health risks of the chemical. The debate over how BPA is regulated has made US and European food safety regulators look to update advisories on the chemical.
University of Canterbury Toxicologist Ian Shaw had this to say about BPA: “I don’t think we should ban BPA, but I think we should control its use much more carefully. BPA is the chemical used to manufacture polycarbonate plastics, is a component of lacquers used to line food cans, and is used in some dental fillings – the problem is that it mimics the female hormone. Small doses over a long time can initiate female hormone responses.
“In males this might result in undescended testes or other sex organ deformities, but in females it is possible that some breast cancers might be stimulated. A specific type of breast cancer (estrogen receptor positive breast cancer) grows when the female hormone, estrogen, binds to a specific receptor in the cell; when the receptor is occupied the cancer cell divides and the cancer grows. An estrogen mimic such as BPA can bind to the receptor and stimulate the breast cancer cell to divide. Controlling its use while allowing it to be used for the benefit of society (e.g. in some medical devices) will reduce exposure and so reduce the risk.”
While University of Missouri-Columbia professor Fredrick Vom Saal put it a little more firm, stating, ““Among people who have actually read the literature, there is no debate, just an illusion of controversy. This is a phenomenally potent chemical.”
This may be just the beginning of chemicals in food manufacturing coming under fire. Patricia Hunt, a biologist at Washington State University said about the BPA issue, “It’s just the one that’s captured the attention, because researchers like me have gotten into the field and gone, ‘Holy cats! We’re all exposed to this.’ There’s been a heavy industry response, and we’ve gathered our forces together a little more strongly to shine a light on it. This is the poster child for this group of chemicals. Academic scientists are saying we need to do something, and we need to do it fast.”
With all of this being said, BPA is still an accepted food manufacturing chemical in many countries. We will stay tuned later this month as the European Food Authority makes there decision on the future of BPA in European manufacturing. This decision will surely hold weight on the rest of the world’s manufacturing.