In an article published on March 15, 2018 by regulatory news provider Chemical Watch, editor Julie A. Miller reported on Chemical Watch’s conference on U.S. food contact regulations that was held on March 8-9, 2018 in Arlington, U.S. (FPF reported). The conference participants agreed that “regulation by the Food and Drug Administration [(FDA)] is less important than state regulation and consumer demands for companies that market food items and manufacture food packaging,” Miller informed.

In the case of bisphenol A (BPA, CAS 80-05-7), for example, the FDA’s assertion that current uses of BPA in food packaging are safe, based on preliminary results of the CLARITY-BPA study (FPF reported), will not matter if U.S. states, such as California, regulate the chemical and consumers preferably buy “BPA-free” products.

Demands of retailers, such as Walmart and Costco, regarding chemicals of concern (COCs) in packaged food products are just as important, Miller illustrated. Weldon Williams, senior director of global quality assurance at logistics and supply chain support company Havi, explained that retailers’ concerns are “global” because they consider different national regulations of the countries where they do business. Also, retailers are “dealing with perceptions” of consumers, Williams highlighted. He further noted that “when packages say ‘I am BPA-free’ and ‘I am GMO-free,’ it communicates to consumers that these things are dangerous.”

According to Tom Neltner, chemicals policy director of non-profit organization Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the FDA has not managed to regulate COCs such as perchlorate and perfluorinated compounds in food packaging. Therefore, action by U.S. states is “a symptom of the FDA not having the resources to do the analysis or the authority to get the information,” he stated. Consumers are increasingly interested in the ingredients of their food and whether they are safe, Neltner added. Consumers are also concerned about the overall impact of products in addition to impacts on personal health.

Dennis Keefe, director of the FDA’s Office of Food Additives, stated that the agency does not “have a lot of tools to demand that data from industry.”

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Julie A. Miller (March 15, 2018). “‘Consumer and retailer demands as potent as regulation,’ food packagers say.Chemical Watch