BPA Brouhaha in DC

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Manufacturing and politics go together like peanut butter and jelly. Or perhaps I should say like tomatoes and bisphenol-A, aka BPA.

What's in that can ASIDE from tasty tomato soup? (Credit: Getty)

What's in that can ASIDE from tasty tomato soup? (Credit: Getty)

Food processing is big business in California, and one of California's big political figures, Senator Dianne Feinstein, has proposed an amendment to ban BPA in food and drink containers that may derail the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510).  Food Safety News goes into detail this week, reporting the Grocery Manufacturers of America (aka Coca-Cola, ConAgra, San Francisco's own Del Monte Foods, et al) recently threatened to oppose the bill with the BPA ban attached.

"Because adequate alternatives are not currently available, bills such as [Feinstein's amendment] would aversely impact an exceptionally wide range of canned and other packaged foods," said GMA's president and CEO in a letter to both Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Umm, at least two companies deliver more-BPA-free-than-not containers.

"I introduced my bill to ban BPA from being used in food containers because I feel very strongly that the government should protect people from harmful chemicals. I continue to believe that BPA should be addressed as a part of the food-safety overhaul," Feinstein told POLITICO last week.

The Food & Drug Administration is re-reviewing BPA and is expected to complete its assessment sometime in the next two years. The National Institutes of Health has also launched a $30 million study on low level exposure.

Said the letter to Senate leadership, "If the FDA or other competent regulatory authorities conclude that BPA poses a risk to our consumers, our industry will move quickly to address those risks."

Given what's already known about the chemical, the question is...how quickly? When I talked with a number of experts on KQED's Forum last month, the consensus was not very:

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About Rachael Myrow

Rachael Myrow hosts the California Report for KQED. Over 17 years in public radio, she's worked for Marketplace and KPCC, filed for NPR and The World, and developed a sizable tea collection that's become the envy of the KQED newsroom. She specializes in politics, economics and history in California - but for emotional balance, she also covers food and its relationship to health and happiness.

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