WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has rejected a petition by environmentalists that sought to ban the much-debated chemical bisphenol-A from all food and drink packaging.
In its petition, the Natural Resources Defense Council cited dozens of studies on animals that showed the plastic hardening agent, commonly known as BPA, is linked to hormone disruptions that lead to brain changes, chromosomal abnormalities and some cancers. Researchers estimate the BPA can be found in trace amounts in 90% of Americans' bodies, mainly because it leaches out of food and beverage containers, including water and soda bottles and the lining of food cans.
The agency said NRDC's petition lacked sufficiently scientific evidence to justify new restrictions on the chemical, but expressed its support for further research on the safety of BPA.
"While evidence from some studies has raised questions as to whether BPA may be associated with a variety of health effects, there remain serious questions about these studies, particularly as they relate to humans," the agency said in its response.
FDA said it expects to issue another update on the safety of BPA later this year, based on its most recent findings. The agency's last official statement was that there is "some concern" about BPA's effects on infants and young children. Previously, the agency said the trace amounts of BPA that leach out of food containers are not dangerous.
The NRDC presented its petition to the FDA in 2008. The group later sued the FDA in 2011 for failing to respond, giving U.S. regulators until March 31 to issue a response.
Many food companies have already responded to consumer backlash by removing BPA from their products. Campbell Soup Co. said last month that it would begin removing BPA from the cans containing its most popular soups, but did not set a time-frame.