A coalition of eight consumer health advocacy groups is challenging the FDA’s recent decision not to ban perchlorate in food packaging applications.
The coalition groups contend that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration failed to acknowledge scientific evidence that demonstrates that the chemical disrupts fetal and infant brain development, causing permanent brain damage. The groups also argue FDA’s own data shows perchlorate, which is used in solid rocket fuels, herbicides, and explosives, migrates from packaging materials into foods.
The Environmental Defense Fund, one of the groups seeking a formal evidentiary public hearing before an administrative law judge, claims that “FDA approved its use in plastic packaging for food in 2005 despite evidence that it harms the brain development of fetuses and infants.”
In EDF’s press release the group said, “today’s objection filed with the FDA demonstrates the agency’s refusal to acknowledge the agency’s evidence that perchlorate exposure increased significantly after its’ 2005 decision to allow perchlorate in packaging.
The group argues that FDA’s initial decision to approve perchlorate in food packaging applications continues to grossly underestimate the amount of perchlorate that migrates into dry food.”
EDF notes that contamination of food by perchlorate is specifically known as one of the dangers of the chemical by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, which classifies perchlorate as a carcinogen.
The participating groups joining in the call for a review of FDA’s decision include:
· Breast Cancer Prevention Partners
· Center for Environmental Health
· Center for Science in the Public Interest
· Center for Food Safety
· Clean Water Action
· Environmental Working Group
· Natural Resources Defense Council; and
· Improving Kids’ Environment.
“An FDA report published in 2016 found that practically all foods sampled had detectable levels of perchlorate. A more dangerous trend that emerges was that the amount of perchlorate in foods eaten by infants and toddlers increased by approximately 36 percent and 24 percent, respectively, from 2008-2012 compared to the period between 2005-2006.
Food companies add perchlorate to plastic packaging for dry foods such as rice, cereal, and flour to reduce static charges in packaging. Consumer advocates argue that an industry study showed the chemical migrates into the food inside the packages.
The coalition groups will argue that perchlorate threatens the development and function of the brains of a developing fetus or infant by impairing the thyroid’s ability to use iodine in the diet to make the thyroid hormone T4 that is essential to brain development.
In their request, the advocacy groups say the FDA made several scientific and legal blunders during the decision-making process, relying on a single study designed for small packaging that was conducted by a company with a financial interest in the outcome,” according to their request for a formal hearing.
“This migration test bears little relevance to the actual conditions of use of the perchlorate in bulk packaging allowed by FDA, the advocates said, noting that the test was not designed to assess the migration of perchlorate into food via food handling equipment.
Specifically, the consumer health groups are requesting:
· FDA to revoke its approval of Threshold of Regulation (TOR) exemption No. 2005–006 that allows up to 1.2 % sodium perchlorate monohydrate in dry food packaging applications;
· FDA to prohibit the use of perchlorate as an anti-static agent in food contact articles; and
· FDA to permanently ban the use of potassium perchlorate as an allowed additive in sealing gaskets in food containers with existing applications under § 177.1210 (21 CFR 177.1210).