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The FDA: Working Hard to Protect Industry

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) made two moves in recent days that seemingly address consumer concerns on some hot button issues. First, it banned the use of bisphenol A (BPA) based epoxy resins in coatings for baby formula packaging. Second, it proposed a limit on how much arsenic is allowed in apple juice. Looking more closely at these decisions, however, it seems that FDA is really more interested in appeasing industry, than doing its duty to protect the public.  Read more

3 Steps the FDA Can Take in 2013 to Show It Is Protecting Americans from Harm

The Food and Drug Administration recently announced two sweeping programs for protecting Americans from contamination in our food.  Every year tens of thousands of Americans get sick from the presence of Salmonella, E.coli, and other bacteria in the food we eat. These new programs will help prevent some of the contamination from happening in the first place.

This is a welcome departure for an agency better known for paralysis than prevention. Perhaps this bold New Year’s announcement means the FDA is kicking off a new focus on shielding Americans from harm. Or perhaps the agency will simply fall back into its familiar pattern of delay. Read more

BPA Free Baby Bottles Now Law, But We’re Not in the Clear

Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a ban on the use of bisphenol A, or BPA, in baby bottles and children’s cups. BPA is an estrogen-mimicking chemical that has been used in hard plastics, the linings of cans, food packaging, and dental fillings, even receipts–for which the Environmental Protection Agency is now investigating alternatives–for years. We’ve reported about the dangers of BPA on Civil Eats here, here, and here. This move essentially made official a practice that many manufacturers of baby bottles and cups already follow in response to growing pressure from consumers.

Questions of safety remain when it comes to the use of any plastic products that come in contact with our foods. The FDA ban is raising concern and creating headlines about what manufacturers will substitute in place of the BPA. A 2011 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that all plastics contain estrogenic activity (EA) and in some cases, those labeled “BPA free” leached more chemicals with EA than did BPA-containing products. The study’s authors write, “Almost all commercially available plastic products we sampled—independent of the type of resin, product, or retail source—leached chemicals having reliably detectable EA, including those advertised as BPA free.”

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Our Chemical Cocktail Evaluated in New Report

When it comes to the chemicals used in food packaging, there is much we still don’t know. After a recent U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) decision last month to not put further restrictions on bisphenol-A (BPA), a new report today in the Washington Post takes a closer look at studies that reveal that such endocrine-distrupting chemicals are not only ubiquitous, they might also be harmful at much lower doses than previously thought.  Read more

BPA Exposure Worse Than Previously Estimated

According to a new study, exposure to the gender-bending chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA) is worse than previously estimated. The study, which appeared Monday in Environmental Health Perspectives, is the first to recreate the chronic daily intake of BPA in humans, which leaches into our food–our primary channel for exposure–via its packaging. Researchers showed this by feeding a steady BPA-spiked diet to mice, whereas previous studies have only used a single exposure. Read more

What Dow Chemical Doesn’t Want You to Know About Your Water (VIDEO)

Earlier this year, I was contacted by a PR firm working for Dow Chemical to contribute a 60-second video for The Future We Create virtual conference on water sustainability the company launches today. As a vocal advocate for strict regulation of toxic chemicals—especially for food and farming—I was surprised the company would approach me. Dow is the country’s largest chemical maker, and profits handsomely from developing some of the world’s most polluting products, many of which are widely used in industrial and consumer goods as well as agriculture.

In the video I submitted, which you can watch below, I stress that one of the greatest threats to clean water is chemical contaminants—and that Dow Chemical has a long history of water pollution. The PR representative e-mailed to say “unfortunately we can’t use your video,” but that she would be happy to include me, still, if I would consider re-recording it. When we discussed what that would mean she said, no “fingerpointing;” they wanted a “positive, inclusive discussion.” Read more

FDA: Variable Amounts of BPA on Your Plate

Many Americans, including a high number living in low-income communities, have come to rely on canned tomato sauces, soups, and vegetables to expedite their meal preparations. Yet a new study from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reveals that the canned food items on your dinner plate are over 90 percent likely to be tainted with Bisphenol-A (BPA), a primary chemical used in the lining of cans. (For more information on BPA, check out Civil Eats’ previous reporting here, here, here, and here.)

These findings are notable because they underline the fact that BPA levels in cans are variable depending on the type of food, or even within batches of the same food item. This is the FDA’s largest study to date across a wide spectrum of commonly consumed canned food items, including soups, chilis, pasta and pork and beans–foods often consumed by children, who have a heightened risk of exposure due to their body size. Read more

California Will Vote on BPA Ban Today

The California State Assembly today will vote on a bill to protect our most vulnerable residents–babies and toddlers–from Bisphenol-A (BPA), a harmful chemical in their food and drink containers. (Civil Eats has reported on BPA here, here, and here.)

Assembly Bill 1319, the Toxin-Free Infants and Toddlers Act, would ban the use of BPA in baby bottles, sippy cups, infant formula, and baby food. The bill, authored by Assembly Member Betsy Butler (D-Marina Del Ray), which was passed by both the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee and the Health Committee, is headed for a vote by the full Assembly today. Read more