Sen. Feinstein introduces legislation to ban BPA

May 18, 2010 5:14:29 PM PDT
A powerful California senator wants to ban a controversial chemical found in plastics and canned foods.

Some scientists disagree with Senator Dianne Feinstein over the danger of BPA. The senator's call came with the release of a study by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group in Washington, which tested canned foods for the chemical Bisphenol A also known as BPA.

They tested samples of canned foods gathered from the homes of volunteers around the country. Of the 50 samples, 46 contained traces of BPA. The group singled out canned vegetables sold by Del Monte and Wal-Mart along with a soup from Healthy Choice, as having levels higher than EPA guides.

"Real life meals involving one or more cans of the food can cause individuals to ingest levels of BPA that have been shown to cause health effects in lab animal studies," explained Elizabeth Hitchcock with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

Feinstein is sponsoring legislation that would eventually ban BPA from most food containers.

"But particularly, move aggressively right now in baby cups, baby bottles, sippy cups, infant formula, infant food, and then in conjunction with the FDA study, phase out BPA in canned goods," she said.

BPA has been used in the lining of cans for decades to help preserve food. Animal studies have linked it to heart disease, obesity and damage to the reproductive system, but other scientists have questioned the research methodology and whether ingesting BPA poses a health risk.

"Again, we must go back to the route of exposure. If I inject it in my brain, or if I inject it in my veins, or I inject it in my skin, I can demonstrate your endocrine disruption. I cannot demonstrate it through reproducible oral studies," explained toxicologist Calvin Willhite.

From their headquarters in San Francisco, Del Monte foods issued a statement to ABC7 saying, "Like most in the industry, the metal cans we use have protective coatings which contain trace amounts of BPA, amounts which fall within the European Food Safety Authority's guidelines which the FDA acknowledges as well."

The study group counters that that six states have already banned BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups, and expressed support for Senator Feinstein's bill.

"So, the really good news is that Congress has the opportunity to address this important food safety issue right now," Feinstein said.


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