by Heidi Green
July 24, 2012
Finally! At long last, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is taking official action on Bisphenol A (BPA). Manufacturers of baby bottles and sippy cups will no longer be able to make products containing the controversial chemical.
As explained elsewhere on baby gooroo, BPA is a hormone-disrupting chemical that has been found in baby bottles, sippy cups, the lining of infant formula cans, many plastic water bottles, and lots of other food containers and plastic products. According to the Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (of the National Institutes of Health), BPA could pose some risk to brain development in babies and children. In addition, the National Toxicology Program concluded that there is “some concern” over the effects of BPA in fetuses, infants, and children citing neural and behavioral concerns, as well as concerns related to the prostate gland, mammary gland, and early puberty in females. Recent research also suggests a link between BPA and obesity and diabetes.
July 21, 2012 the FDA ruled that manufacturers will no longer be able to include BPA in their baby bottles and sippy cups. Pressure for such a ban has been building for several years (baby gooroo covered it in November 2008, May 2008, August 2007, and March 2007). “BPA-free” declarations are now displayed on the shelves of the baby product aisles nationwide. Bowing to consumer demand, manufacturers already have voluntarily stopped using the controversial chemical in their baby bottles and sippy cups.
The FDA’s new ruling, then, isn’t an effort to protect consumer health. The ban is specific to a narrow selection of products—baby bottles and sippy cups—and does not limit the use of BPA in other products such as plastic food containers or can linings (including infant formula cans). In fact, according to FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods Michael Taylor, the agency will “continue to support” BPA’s use as “safe.”
So, why did the FDA ban the chemical’s use in only specific products? The decision comes at the behest of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the chemical industry’s main trade association. ACC requested that the FDA phase out rules allowing BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups in order to boost consumer confidence—and, one might imagine, product sales.
The decision “solidifies legally,” Taylor explains, “that the use [of BPA] will not happen again in the future” in baby bottles and sippy cups for infants and toddlers.
Info for consumers
The FDA’s decision on BPA, while appropriate, is limited. As Diana Zuckerman of the National Research Center for Women and Families explains, “The FDA is slowly making progress on the issue, but they are doing the bare minimum here [and] instituting a ban that is already in effect voluntarily.” Parents still need to be cautious consumers. Some tips:
The FDA’s ban is a good step, but it is only the first, small step towards reducing our children’s exposure to this potent chemical.
Editor’s Note—September 20, 2012
Researchers have noted a link between BPA exposure and obesity in both children and adolescents. They looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2003–2009), including more than 2,800 children ages 6–19 years and found twice as many of those with the highest level of BPA in their urine were obese, compared with those who had the lowest levels. The relationship between BPA and obesity is unclear—it’s possible there is an unidentified genetic element, that obesity somehow causes higher levels of BPA, or that obese children have habits that cause them to consume more BPA than their non-obese peers. Still, this study raises concern about BPA even as the FDA continues to call it safe.
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