FDA’s Reevaluation of BPA Safety Levels in Food Packaging

Posted on Behalf of  Eduardo Encina

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently allows bisphenol A (BPA) to be used in food containers and packaging, stating that the potential for people to be exposed to BPA through leaching into food or beverages is low, and leads to no health effects (FDA, 2022). However, the FDA has agreed to reevaluate BPA safety, specifically within food packaging material, in response to a second petition filed by a group of physicians, scientists, public health, and environmental organizations.

BPA is an industrial chemical used as a structural component within polycarbonate, a hard, clear plastic commonly found in a variety of consumer products, such as beverage bottles, eyewear, and epoxy resins that coat water supply pipes and metal food cans (FDA, 2022; NIH, 2022). The National Institute of Health (NIH) reports that consumer BPA exposure occurs primarily through diet, as the chemical can leach from internal epoxy resin coatings or consumer products into food, although the degree to which this leaching occurs is highly variable (NIH, 2022).

The coalition first filed a petition to the FDA on January 31, 2022, heavily citing a 2021 risk evaluation conducted by the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) that established a total daily intake (TDI) of 0.04 ng/kg of body weight per day for BPA (EFSA, 2021). A 100-fold reduction from the 2015 TDI of 4 µg/kg of body weight per day was proposed. This change was based on EFSA’s observations of adverse immune system effects associated with BPA exposure, specifically an increase in “T-helper” cells, which can lead to allergic lung inflammation (EFSA, 2021). While the FDA did not process the first petition because of incomplete information, the second petition builds on the first petition’s foundation through its inclusion of a newly published Environmental International study (Abellan et al., 2022). This study analyzed in utero exposure to BPA, bisphenol F (BPF), and bisphenol S (BPS) and potential lung and respiratory morbidity among 3,007 mother-child pairs. The authors concluded that BPA exposure in the womb may be associated with higher odds of asthma and wheeze among school-age girls.

Any change by the FDA to BPA regulations could lead to changes in BPA content among various consumer and general industrial product packaging, which would likely include an overhaul of food production and consumer packaging. Any change of this nature may have a long-lasting impact on general consumer safety and exposure potential that could lead to a renewed interest in evaluating other chemical compounds used in various food packaging materials. The FDA has until October 31, 2022, to make a final decision on its re-evaluation of BPA.

ChemRisk scientists have extensive experience performing exposure and safety assessments for consumer products to determine compliance with FDA regulations, as well as with providing recommendations pertaining to human health. Our team of scientists have significant experience involving regulatory BPA projects and have led various projects surrounding complex risk assessments to characterize potential exposures and human health risks related to consumer products. Please contact Dr. Sharlee Moore or Dr. Ernest Fung for more information regarding ChemRisk’s capabilities.