WASHINGTON – The food industry and major business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are threatening to withdraw support for a long-pending bill to improve food safety, saying they are upset by a proposed amendment that would ban the controversial chemical bisphenol-A from food and beverage containers.

The bill is the Senate version of legislation passed overwhelmingly by the House last year. It is designed to give the Food and Drug Administration vast new regulatory authority over food production and place greater responsibility on manufacturers and farmers to produce food free from contamination.

It had broad bipartisan support and backing from the White House, and it was expected to come to the Senate floor before the Memorial Day recess.

But in a letter to Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., the chairman and ranking minority member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, the business groups said last week that they oppose an amendment by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that would ban bisphenol-A, or BPA, from food and beverage containers.

“We will not support food safety legislation that bans or phases out BPA from any food and beverage container,” said Scott Faber, vice president for federal affairs for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents food companies and retailers.

BPA is used in thousands of consumer goods, including compact discs, dental sealants, and credit card and ATM receipts, but health advocates say they are most concerned about BPA’s presence in plastic food containers, bottles and the epoxy linings of metal cans because it can leach into food and beverages.

BPA is found in the urine of more than 90 percent of the U.S. population, according to federal estimates.

More than 200 studies have connected BPA to a range of health concerns, including cancer and developmental and reproductive problems. Some U.S. states and cities have banned its use in certain products, primarily in items for young children that come into contact with food.