Tuesday, July 24, 2018
The eye-catching headline of a recent news statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) claimed that “some common food additives may pose health risks to children.” And that’s what the media reported, and in some cases embellished, apparently without asking too many questions.
The AAP statement further notes that there are “critical weaknesses” in the current food additives regulatory process, which is governed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and calls for “urgently needed reforms.” All this is predicated on “growing evidence” that some chemicals found in food additives and packaging may harm children’s health.
This all sounds pretty compelling, or at least it does until you reach the section of the statement with the proof points, specifically the list of examples described as the “additives of most concern.” First on the list is BPA, which is used to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins.
Both materials can safely be used in applications that contact food and are regulated by FDA for this purpose. When used in contact with food, these materials help protect our food supply by keeping food safe from contamination such as botulism and other food-borne illnesses.
But something is conspicuously missing from AAP’s list of concerning additives. Although a technical report issued along with the statement acknowledges that BPA “has been the focus of significant research and attention,” there is no mention whatsoever of the recently released CLARITY study on BPA. Not in the technical report, or the related AAP policy statement, or the news statement that attracted the media. That’s more than 30 pages and not a single mention of the most important study on BPA ever conducted that prompted FDA to once again confirm BPA safety.
That lapse is more than ironic since the CLARITY study was conducted by FDA senior scientists for the express purpose of resolving remaining uncertainties about the safety of BPA. That’s the same FDA that needs reform, according to AAP.
The CLARITY study is not just another study; the scope and magnitude of the study are truly unprecedented. How could AAP have overlooked this very important study and what it tells us about the safety of BPA?
It can’t be that the CLARITY study is a big secret. The results of the study were released by the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) earlier this year, leading to prominent headlines on what the results mean: “BPA unlikely to be harmful, federal study shows” and “Plastic Additive BPA Not Much Of A Threat, Government Study Finds.” Could it be that AAP chose to ignore inconvenient facts that didn’t support its policy agenda?
It might be easy to overlook this lapse except that AAP describes itself as “dedicated to the health of all children.” For that purpose, facts do matter.