American Chemistry MattersA Blog of the American Chemistry Council

American Chemistry Matters

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BPA and plastics: the not-so scary truth

What’s trending right now? Lots of chatter about the safety of plastics:

Are plastics safe in food packaging? Are they safe in carry-out food containers? What about the plastics in my kitchen? What should I do?

Questions like these are the result of pressure groups targeting plastics — the very plastics that have been approved by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for safe use in food-contact applications. Unfortunately, these voices consistently ignore decades of scientific study confirming the safety of these materials. That makes things tough for consumers who are often inundated with news headlines that promote anxiety and fear and are not always based on science or fact.

So what are busy consumers to think when they hear talk shows and lifestyle experts packaging up a fear of plastics and beaming it right into their homes?

Let’s be clear: Food packaging is reviewed for safety by the FDA, and this stringent safety review is done before new materials are allowed on the market.

Consumers can and should be confident in the safety of plastic food packaging. FDA’s review of plastics for food-contact use specifically considers migration before making its safety determination.

Several stories this week string together a series of scary plastics claims and use a favorite target — polycarbonate plastic made with BPA — as a launching point to attack other plastics. But those stories don’t mention the FDA website where scientific experts at the agency ask the key question: “Is BPA safe?” And answer it with one word: “Yes.”

Just a few weeks ago, FDA released the results of a comprehensive subchronic toxicity study, one of the largest studies ever conducted on BPA. The results were published in peer-reviewed scientific literature. The lead FDA researcher says the results of this recent study “both support and extend the conclusion from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that BPA is safe as currently used.”

Plastic food packaging, whether made with BPA or other materials, continues to deliver real benefits to millions of consumers throughout the world. In fact, it’s widely known that plastic packaging protects food to help keep people safe and healthy.

Maybe it is this new, indisputable FDA science that has the anti-plastics crowd so busy. It’s hard to say.

And today’s efficient modern plastic packaging continues to keep foods fresher longer with less material, less waste and more opportunities to recycle.


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