U.S. Lawmaker Pushes FDA to Limit Dangerous Chemicals in Food
(Bloomberg) -- An Illinois congressman is pushing U.S. health officials to act on a request to ban chemicals commonly used in food packaging that have been shown to affect the reproductive system and children’s cognitive development.
U.S. Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat who leads the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s consumer policy panel, wrote to Acting Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Janet Woodcock asking her to explain what evidence the agency has that the levels of the chemicals, called phthalates, that it currently allows in food packaging are safe. Krishnamoorthi said the Consumer Product Safety Commission has banned eight phthalates in children’s toys at concentrations of more than 0.1%.
Krishnamoorthi also asked when the FDA would make a decision on a petition filed more than five years ago by health advocates seeking to prohibit use of the chemicals.
“FDA is tasked with ensuring the safety of our nation’s food supply, but over multiple administrations the agency has fallen short in protecting vulnerable Americans from the pernicious effects of foods contaminated with phthalates,” Krishnamoorthi wrote. “FDA must not allow these dangerous chemicals to continue to hurt American families.”
Phthalates help soften plastic, making them useful in packaging, but they can leak into food. An April article in the American Journal of Public Health by toxic chemical and neurodevelopment experts highlighted studies that have found phthalates “can impair brain development and increase risks for learning, attention, and behavioral disorders in childhood.”
Animal studies have also linked phthalates to disruptions in how hormones operate.
Advocates who filed a 2016 petition requesting the FDA ban the chemicals sued the agency last month through a nonprofit environmental law group called Earthjustice seeking to compel the agency to act.
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