The latest U.S. Food and Drug Administration announcement came like a punch in the gut to those who had been following the BPA saga and advocating for a ban of its use in children's products and food packaging. The FDA announced on March 30 that it would not ban the use of bisphenol A, also known as BPA, in food packaging but that it would continue to research the issue.
According to the FDA's findings, the scientific evidence presented in the Natural Resources Defense Council's 2008 petition to ban BPA from food packaging "was not sufficient to persuade" the agency. But the agency also left itself a little wiggle room to change course in the future.
"This is not a final safety determination on BPA," FDA spokesman Douglas Karas said. "There is a commitment to doing a thorough evaluation of the risk of BPA."
Is it just me or does this sound like a total cop-out? I am repeatedly frustrated by the American policy to wait and see if a chemical or ingredient is detrimental to human health before we stop using it. So the burden falls on consumers and watchdog agencies to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that something is harmful when the burden should be on manufacturers to prove that it is safe.
Regardless, the rise of social media has almost made FDA decisions such as this one obsolete. It was consumer demand that got BPA out of baby bottles and sippy cups — not FDA policy. And it will be consumer demand again that will get BPA out of food packaging. After all, it was a social media campaign that lead Campbell's Soup to announce that it would phase out BPA from the packaging.
If you are concerned about BPA, you can minimize your family's exposure by avoiding products packaged in #7 plastic or in cans (unless they are marked as BPA-free.)
Stop buying it, and the companies will respond.