On December 9, 2020, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) reported on a formal petition sent to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requesting a revision of its standards for lead in food and food contact materials (FCMs).
Lead is known to be harmful to brain development and promote heart disease, with diet being the main source of exposure for children in the US. However, apart from food itself, another route of lead exposure is through contaminated food contact materials.
The petition specifically describes how the FDA should, among other changes, ban lead as an additive in food contact materials and articles, including food packaging, processing or handling equipment, and cookware. The petition highlights that the FDA should especially focus on tin cans as well as brass and bronze equipment. According to the petitioners, the actions they outline in the petition are simple and would significantly drive down lead levels in food.
The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Vice President for Science Investigations, Olga Naidenko, said: “Even small amounts of lead harms the nervous system, especially for children. Exposure to lead causes lasting damage to the brain which is why it is essential to get lead out of food and food packaging. The FDA must take strong measures to make sure children are not exposed to lead from foods and beverages they love.”
Once the petition is out for public comment, the FDA will have to respond to it within 180 days.
Tom Neltner (January 11, 2021). “It’s time to eliminate lead from tin coating and solder on metal food cans.” EDF
Tom Neltner (January 13, 2021). “Getting lead out of brass and bronze food equipment.” EDF
Center for Food Safety (December 9, 2020). “FDA’s outdated lead standards put the public’s health at risk.”
EDF (December 9, 2020). “FDA’s Outdated Lead Standards Put the Public’s Health at Risk.”