The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently finalized a rule to ban commercial uses of methylene chloride, a solvent used in a variety of applications, from paint stripping to decaffeinating coffee and manufacturing spice extracts. The chemical has been linked to liver cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, brain cancer, cancer of the blood, cancer of the central nervous system, neurological harm, liver damage, and death. However, because food falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and not EPA, the use of methylene chloride in food production is still approved in the U.S.

In light of the health risks posed by methylene chloride, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is calling for FDA to follow EPA’s example and ban the chemical’s use in food. On March 11, 2024, CSPI wrote to the FDA to express support for two petitions filed by other groups in January, which requested that FDA revoke its approvals for the use of methylene chloride and three other solvents: benzene, ethylene dichloride, and trichloroethylene (TCE). The petitions were filed by the Environmental Defense Fund, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, the Center for Environmental Health, Environmental Working Group (EWG), and an environmental health consultant.