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US FDA denies petition to ban common chemical BPA

WASHINGTON--U.S. health regulators denied a request to ban a chemical used in water bottles, soup cans and other food and drink packaging, saying there is not enough scientific evidence it may cause harm.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration denied the petition from an environmental group to ban the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, which has been used for decades to harden plastic or make the epoxy resin that lines tin cans.

But BPA can also leach into food and water from these protective coatings, and environmental and consumer groups argue it can interfere with hormones in humans and cause health problems.

U.S. regulators said studies showing harm have been inconclusive so far, although they continue to review the evidence. The FDA said it would provide an updated safety review of BPA later this year, based on further analysis and government studies.

“I cannot stress enough that this is not a final safety determination on BPA,” said Douglas Karas, an FDA spokesman.

The FDA agreed to rule on whether to ban BPA use in food and beverage packaging as part of the settlement of a lawsuit with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The NRDC said studies show long-term exposure to BPA is harmful, especially in fetuses, babies and young children.

“BPA is a toxic chemical that has no place in our food supply. We believe FDA made the wrong call,” said Dr. Sarah Janssen, senior scientist at NRDC.

“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.”

Consumer concern has already led to discontinuation of BPA use in the production of baby bottles and sippy cups in the United States, the NRDC has said. A sippy cup, which has a lid and spout, allows children to drink without spilling.

In response to further scientific studies, Canada declared BPA a toxic substance in 2010. Both Canada and Europe have already banned it in the production of baby bottles, and France banned it in food packaging.

But use of the chemical remains widespread in food packaging in the United States. BPA is the key compound in epoxy resin linings in cans that keep food fresher longer and prevents it from interacting with metal and altering the taste.

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