"Make or break" time for California BPA ban

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Bisphenol a, Bpa

The bid to ban bisphenol A (BPA) in California looks set to go the wire after a vote on the law in the State Assembly was delayed for the second time amid fierce political wrangling.

Bill SB 797, which seeks to ban the controversial chemical in food packing aimed at young children, has one more day to pass into law before the legislature goes into recess. Failure to achieve passage on Friday means the bill would be unlikely to return to the Assembly for another 12 months. One source told FoodProductionDaily.com it was “make or break”​ for another year.

Final vote

A final vote on the measure was due to take place on Tuesday. However, it did not reach the floor until Wednesday. Although it achieved a favourable 35-31 vote, it failed to poll the 41 votes necessary to pass it into law. Support was mainly split on party lines with most Democrats favouring the ban, while opposition came almost wholly from Republican politician.

The outcome of the final bid due to take place later today is thought to hinge on a small number of Democrats from Southern California who have so far declined to vote.

It is understood that intense lobbying is currently taking place from representatives from the chemical and packaging industries, who oppose the measure, and supporters from public health and consumer groups on the other.

The bill, sponsored by State Senator Fran Pavley, seeks to outlaw use of BPA in the state from 2011 onwards in drink and food containers aimed at children. Specifically, the legislation would prohibit “the sale, manufacture or distribution of a bottle or cup or a liquid, food or beverage in a can, jar or plastic bottle that contains bisphenol A (BPA) if the item is primarily intended for children three years of age or younger​”.

BPA is a chemical widely used in polycarbonate plastic baby bottles, sippy cups and the linings of some food cans. Concern among consumers and politicians over the continued use of the chemical centre on studies that show it leaches from packaging into foodstuffs – particularly after the container has been heated.

Amended

Supporters say the chemical should be banned because of concerns raised by numerous studies linking it to a cancer, birth defects and diabetes. Opponents cite the current approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for BPA in food packaging as crucial to their stance.

The bill has already been amended by the Assembly to give the state’s Department of Toxic Substance Control two years to decide whether to regulate BPA under California’s Green Chemistry Law. Even if the bill is passed, the body could decide BPA is safe and, in effect, over-rule the ban.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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