FDA Reviews Food-Package Chemical

A chemical used by DuPont Co. to make grease-resistant food packaging is under review by the Food and Drug Administration, which may consider limiting uses because of concern about health risks.

Bloomberg News reports

A chemical used by DuPont Co. to make grease-resistant food packaging is under review by the Food and Drug Administration, which may consider limiting uses because of concern about health risks.

The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing DuPont's Zonyl RP chemical to determine "if there is any need to change" existing rules, said George Pauli, the agency's associate director for science policy in the Office of Food Additive Safety.

The FDA currently has no limit on how much of the chemical can be absorbed in the food, Pauli said yesterday, disputing allegations by a former scientist at the Wilmington company. The scientist said Wednesday that Zonyl exceeded safety limits.

Glenn R. Evers, a chemical engineer at DuPont from 1981 to 2002, said Wednesday that food that had touched Zonyl absorbed the chemical at three times the FDA limit. The FDA's 1966 approval of Zonyl does not limit food absorption of Zonyl, Pauli said yesterday in a telephone interview from Washington.

Since the original approval, scientists have found the body breaks down fluorotelomers such as Zonyl into PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, and that PFOA accumulates in people, Evers said. The Environmental Protection Agency is studying PFOA, used in Teflon-coated pans, to determine if it causes cancer in people and why it is in the blood of most Americans.

DuPont has said PFOA does not cause human health problems, even in workers exposed to high doses. Zonyl packaging is safe for consumers, DuPont said Wednesday in a statement.

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