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Ban on BPA in Food & Beverage Containers Introduced in Congress

Sen. Markey, Reps. Capps and Meng Seek to Increase FDA’s Authority to Require Safer Food Additives

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Contact: Margie Kelly, 541-222-9699, mkelly@breastcancerfund.org

SAN FRANCISCO—Bisphenol A (BPA), the notorious chemical banished from baby bottles due to concerns about its impact on the health of young children, is the target of federal legislation that would ban BPA from food and beverage containers and require the FDA to review the safety of other potentially toxic chemicals used in food packaging.

The “Ban Poisonous Additives (BPA) Act of 2014” was introduced into both chambers of Congress today. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., a long-time champion of this legislation when serving in the House of Representatives, introduced the Senate bill, while Reps. Lois Capps, D-Calif., and Grace Meng, D-N.Y., took the lead on companion legislation in the House. If passed, the bill will empower the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to remove BPA from food packaging, label food packaging that still contains BPA while alternatives are developed, encourage manufacturers to replace this hazardous chemical with alternatives that are safer for workers and consumers, and require the agency to review the safety of all food contact substances.

"It’s time to take the worry out of the workplace for our factory workers by taking the BPA out of canned goods and other food and beverage containers,” said Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass. “Doctors, researchers, parents and consumers all know that BPA is dangerous for our bodies, especially for vulnerable groups such as workers and infants and young children. The Ban Poisonous Additives Act will help ensure that our factories and our entire food supply are free from this damaging chemical. It’s time to ban BPA and move to safer alternatives.‎"

“Most people in the United States are exposed to bisphenol A every day, largely from food packaging-related exposures, despite known health risks to children and adults, such as cancer and infertility,” said Nancy Buermeyer, Senior Policy Strategist for the Breast Cancer Fund. “The Breast Cancer Fund supports the “BPA Act of 2014” because it will strengthen FDA authority to remove BPA from food packaging, and will spur the agency to review the safety of thousands of other potentially dangerous chemicals used in food packaging,” said Buermeyer.

Representative Lois Capps (D-CA) said, "The health dangers of BPA exposure are well-documented, and we must do all we can to protect those who are most at risk, including children, pregnant women, and factory workers who assemble food packaging and are exposed every day. The Ban Poisonous Additives Act will protect these and all Americans by banning BPA in all food and beverage containers and requiring a full safety review of all food and beverage containers going forward. I am proud to be working with Rep. Grace Meng and Senator Edward Markey on this important legislation and look forward to moving this bill forward so that we can fully protect our children and our workforce from harmful exposure to BPA."

“This legislation is a no brainer,” said U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens). “Prohibiting the use of BPA chemicals in food packaging and developing less dangerous alternatives is a smart, common sense approach to improving the safety of our children and families. These improvements would also go a long way towards protecting workers who produce products that contain BPA. I urge the House to swiftly pass this critical piece of legislation.”

More than 300 animal and human studies have linked small amounts of BPA exposure to a staggering number of health problems, including prostate and breast cancer, asthma, obesity, behavioral changes and inattention, altered development of the brain and immune system, low birth weight and lowered sperm counts. A 2013 Breast Cancer Fund comprehensive review of the science linking BPA to later life health problems was deeply troubling, finding prenatal exposure to the chemical is of even greater concern than childhood exposure. Minuscule amounts of BPA have been shown to cross the placenta and disrupt normal prenatal development, which can set the stage for later‐life diseases, such as breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Young women workers in plastics and canning facilities faced a fivefold increase in breast cancer risk, likely linked to prolonged exposure to cancer-causing and endocrine-disrupting chemicals, such as BPA, according to a 2012 study published in the journal “Environmental Health.”

“Continuous exposure to a cocktail of dangerous chemicals linked to cancer, like BPA, increases the breast cancer risk for the entire population,” said Buermeyer. “By reducing exposure to BPA, this bill is a significant step toward protecting vulnerable members of our society - pregnant women, children, and workers - from toxic chemicals,” said Buermeyer.

A peer-reviewed study published in Environmental Health Perspectives (2011) suggests that food packaging is a substantial source of exposure to BPA. Scientists at the Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute discovered an average drop of 60 percent in BPA levels when study participants ate a diet that avoided contact with BPA-containing food packaging, such as canned food and polycarbonate plastic. The study suggests that removing BPA from food packaging will remove the number one source of BPA exposure.

Efforts to ban or restrict BPA have been ongoing since 2009. Twelve states ban BPA from children’s food containers, yet only Connecticut and Maine also restrict the chemical from reusable food and beverage containers. Some retailers and manufacturers have switched to alternative chemicals. The Breast Cancer Fund’s Cans Not Cancer campaign announced in 2012 that Campbell Soup Company would phase out the use of BPA in its can linings. Heinz and Eden Foods have transitioned away from BPA, as has ConAgra and Muir Glen. Supermarket chain SAFEWAY is seeking BPA alternatives for food packaging and Kroger has committed to make its store brands and baby products BPA free by 2015. France announced a ban on BPA in packaging for children under age 3 as of 2013, and all food packaging (effective 2014).

Non-governmental organizations signed onto the Senate bill >

Non-governmental organizations signed onto the House bill >

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The Breast Cancer Fund is the leading national organization working to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposures to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease.