The Food and Drug Administration has announced a public meeting on BPA to be held on February 24, 2009, by the Science Board to the FDA. This public advisory committee, whose function it is to provide advice and recommendations to the agency on FDA’s various regulatory issues, will discuss updates from the agency on the continued assessment of Bisphenol A in FDA-regulated products. The Science Board will also hear about the plans for (1) The review of FDA Center’s science programs, (2) the review of each Center’s projects within scientific priority areas.

The meeting will be held at the Hilton Washington DC, North/Gaithersburg, 620 Perry Pkwy., Gaithersburg, MD 20877. FDA intends to make background material available to the public no later than 2 business days before the meeting.

Late last month, the FDA and Health Canada’s Health Products and Food Branch hosted a meeting of representatives of U.S. and Canadian manufacturers and users of food packaging materials containing BPA to discuss what is being done to concerning the potential levels of the chemical in food. The meeting was also part of FDA’s efforts to assist industry in its voluntary BPA related efforts.

The meeting was designed to provide a forum for:
• Updating the industry on the FDA’s and Health Canada’s current activities and planned research to further assess the exposure to BPA and manage any potential risks from the chemical.
• Describing manufacturers’ research activities, their work to refine packaging manufacturing practices to minimize migration of BPA into food, and recent marketplace developments.
• Dialogue by the participants about further information from regulated industry stakeholders that would be helpful to the FDA and Health Canada in updating and refining their BPA risk assessments.
• Dialogue about the different uses of BPA in food contact applications and the variation in possible availability of fully functional and evaluated alternative substances.
• Discussion of the possibility whether, because of availability of alternative products, polycarbonate baby bottles could cease to be a substantial component of the North American market in the future.

With regard to BPA generally, based on all available evidence, the consensus of regulatory agencies in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan is that the current levels of exposure to BPA through food packaging do not pose an immediate health risk to the general population, including infants and young children.

Health Canada’s Health Products and Food Branch has concluded that current dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging uses is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and infants. However, using an extremely precautionary approach, the Government of Canada has taken steps to reduce exposure to BPA for infants and young children.
The FDA is currently preparing a detailed response to the October, 2008 review by the FDA Science Board of the agency’s draft assessment of the safety of BPA for use in food contact applications. The draft assessment focused on the concerns for developmental toxicity identified in recent assessments of BPA, including those of the National Toxicology Program and their expert panel. For example, the FDA is reviewing research about the potential low-dose effects of BPA.