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Safety

Food Safety Bill Targets BPA

by Glenn Hess
August 10, 2009 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 87, ISSUE 32

Food safety legislation passed by the House on July 30 would require FDA to make a new determination about the safety of bisphenol-A by the end of the year. Under a provision added to the bill by Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), FDA must ensure that BPA exposures via food and beverage containers are safe, with "a reasonable certainty of no harm for infants, young children, and pregnant women." If the agency concludes that BPA is harmful or if FDA is unable to make a decision by the deadline, it would have to propose restrictions on the use of the chemical to safeguard the public. Possible actions include banning or modifying any of the approved uses of BPA in food-contact products. FDA maintains that BPA is safe, but the agency has been criticized for ignoring independent research and basing its conclusions on studies sponsored by the chemical industry. The Food Safety Enhancement Act (H.R. 2749) would also give FDA new authority to set science-based standards for food manufacture and handling. And it calls for more frequent FDA inspections: once a year for high-risk facilities and once every three years for others. Manufacturing sites are now inspected only about once a decade. The Senate has not yet acted on a food safety bill.

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