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Legal update on BPA, Reportable Food Registry, GRAS and more

An update on Bisphenol A (BPA), Food Safety Modernization Act, Reportable Food Registry, and FTC Green Guidelines, and Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS).

During Pack Expo, attorney Eric Greenberg provided an update on the legal status of Bisphenol A (BPA). Greenberg mentioned that there is mix of regulatory positions on BPA around the globe, with many government agencies saying the current level of exposure is not a health concern, while other countries such as Canada and Denmark banning BPA in some instances. Greenberg's take was that even if the science ultimately concludes that BPA is indeed safe, it may not matter if public perception is that material containing BPA is a health risk, the material will indeed fall out of favor and alternatives will need to be developed.
Greenberg also touched on the Food Safety Modernization Act, which is currently stuck waiting for Senate approval after passing the House of Representatives.  It is currently being held up over a provision about BPA that was added, but it is widely expected that the bill (likely without the BPA provision) will eventually pass.

Perhaps of larger immediate consequence to food producers is the effect of the Reportable Food Registry (RFR - which requires food producers to notify the FDA of any contaminated food or incoming ingredients they find within 24 of when an issue is discovered. The goal is to allow multiple entities to report an issue to help the FDA pinpoint where and when an issue is uncovered.

Other legal topics Greenberg mentioned as having packaging implications include the new FTC Green Guides (, which he stressed are “guidelines” and not regulations, a major point of difference.  The FTC is currently seeking public comment on all areas of the Green Guides. 

Finally, discussion turned to Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and potential implications of a change in this area to allow the FDA determine about the safety of some materials.  Greenberg specifically mentioned nanotechnology as an area that could be affected by GRAS as all of the human health and environmental implications of nanotechnology are not completely understood, and could lead to slower implementation of nanotech into packaging applications.
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