The Food and Drug Administration's conclusion that a controversial chemical is safe for use in food containers is badly flawed, an independent panel of scientific advisors said in a report released Tuesday.
The chemical, known as bisphenol A, is used to make plastic for food packaging, baby bottles and other consumer and medical goods. Environmental groups want to ban BPA in products for infants because of concerns that it can interfere with their development. But the FDA recently said there was no harm from the low doses of BPA that babies, children and most adults get by eating foods from containers made with the chemical.
Asked by the FDA to review that conclusion, a panel of outside advisors delivered what amounted to a scientific rebuke.
"The margins of safety defined by FDA as 'adequate' are, in fact, inadequate," the report said. The advisors found that the FDA had not considered all available, credible scientific evidence, and urged the agency to essentially go back to the lab.
The report came as a surprise to environmentalists and supporters in Congress. Citing some advisors' ties to industry, critics had initially questioned the panel's objectivity.
The report will be discussed at a meeting of the FDA's science board Friday, but what it will mean for consumers was not immediately clear.
Consumers can reduce their exposure by avoiding plastic containers imprinted with the recycling number 7. Many of these contain BPA.