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BPA labelling bill introduced to US Senate

Federal legislators have re-opened a front in their campaign against bisphenol A (BPA). A bill, the BPA in Food Packaging Right to Know Act, was introduced on 19 March.

If it is passed into law, the bill would modify Section 403 of the 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The amendment would require any container composed of BPA to carry a label with the text: ‘This food packaging contains BPA, an endocrine-disrupting chemical, according to the National Institutes of Health.’ A six-month transition period would be allowed.

A legal obligation on the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a new safety assessment on BPA food containers is a second component of the bill. This too would have to be completed six months after entry into force.

The sponsors of the bill are two Democratic Party senators – Patrick Leahy of Vermont, and California’s Dianne Feinstein. The latter is long-standing campaigner against BPA. She recently called on the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to rule on the chemical as part of its responsibility for the packaging of organic goods (see Food Contact World 3.5, 16 March 2015).

Commenting on her new bill, Feinstein says: ‘Consumers deserve to know if the items they frequently purchase at the grocery store could expose them and their families to BPA. This straightforward bill would simply require packaging that contains BPA to be labelled, so consumers can make the best decisions for their families.’

The proposal has been attacked by industry. Kathleen Roberts, executive director of the North American Metal Packaging Alliance, told ChemicalWatch: ‘We question why we would label something if the Food and Drug Administration has already determined it to be safe.’

The same bill was introduced in June 2013, but it did not progress through the Congress. A similar outcome is likely for this bill.