The US FDA’s decision earlier this month to apply the Food Contact Notification Programme (FCNP) to plastic drink bottles and food packaging containing bisphenol A ( BPA ) is a sign of substantive change in the management of health risk.
The FCNP programme evaluates food chain materials according to the latest research, which likely includes current thinking by endocrinologists that endocrine disruptors, such as bisphenol A, fall outside the scope of traditional toxicology.
Old school toxicology bases all evaluations on volume of the anticipated poison, but endocrinology researchers argue that virtually immeasurable quantities of hormones and their copycat molecules, can effect profound metabolic change.
This puts at risk a whole category of materials used in agricultural sprays, plastic bottles and food packaging that have been implicated in burgeoning reproductive disorders and the current global diabetes epidemic.
The American Chemistry Council, staunch advocates of the petrochemical industry that provides most of the materials in question, has asked the FDA to clarify its position, arguing that it is difficult to administer materials that are being regulated under two systems – that already existing regime and the new (since 2000) FCNP.
The FDA have so far made bisphenol A evaluation under FCNP entirely voluntary, but with growing public concern over endocrine disruptors public opinion could force food producers to comply with the FDA’s request.
If this is the case the world’s food producers could find themselves forced to consider the latest molecular chemistry research when considering their agricultural and packaging options.
Steven Hentges, of the American Chemistry Council’s Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group, said in a release that, “Practically speaking, you cannot have two regulatory processes operating in parallel that may conflict. It is going to be hugely complicated and it is not entirely clear how this would work. We do not currently have enough information. We want to see what the FDA is trying to accomplish and then work with them to get there in the most efficient way.”