FDA Bans BPA In Baby Bottles
July 18, 2012

FDA Bans BPA In Baby Bottles

Connie K. Ho for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

“You are what you eat.” The age-old adage makes people do a double take on the products they consume and use. With this theme in mind, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced that it would no longer allow bisphenol A, otherwise known as BPA, to be used in baby bottles and children´s drinking cups.

In the past, BPA has been found in plastic bottles and food packaging. It is a chemical found to be similar to estrogen. Manufacturers already stopped using the chemical in products, but the FDA said that its decision was based off a request by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) that proposed products with BPA be slowly phased out to increase consumer confidence. The council believed that a statement would mitigate confusion on whether BPA was used in baby bottles and cups for infants.

“The F.D.A. is slowly making progress on this issue, but they are doing the bare minimum here,” Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center for Women and Families, told the New York Times. “They are instituting a ban that is already in effect voluntarily.”

Even though it´s a step forward for the FDA, the statement doesn´t prohibit or limit BPA in other containers such as containers that hold baby formula. In 2008, the FDA declared BPA safe but later on noted concerns about the chemical in 2010. According to the NY Times, Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods at the agency, believes that the decision codifies what the industry has already been doing based on input from consumers.

"FDA's action is based on industry's abandonment of these uses of BPA," Curtis Allen, an FDA spokesperson, wrote in an email to MedPage Today. "The agency continues to support the safety of BPA for use in products that hold food."

Furthermore, the chemical is thought to contaminate foods. In a study with more than 2,000 people, 90 percent of the participants, appeared to have BPA in their urine. Small amounts have also been seen in breast milk, umbilical cord blood, and blood from pregnant women. The various reports on the negative health effects have made BPA a controversial chemical that has gradually been removed by manufacturers.

Requests to ban BPA have been made in the past by other organizations. Last March, the FDA denied a request by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) that advocated for a complete ban of BPA in all beverage and food containers. In regards to its decision, the agency stated that it would continue to focus research efforts on the health effects of BPA. However, various congressional members and the scientific board of the FDA were unhappy with the way the agency handled the NRDC request.

According to MedPage Today, the ACC described BPA as “one of the most thoroughly tested chemicals used today and has a safety track record in food contact of over 40 years." The NRDC believes that the current decision by the FDA is still not strong enough against BPA. Places like Canada, China, and the European Union have already banned BPA in all children products. In past studies, BPA has been associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and liver abnormalities.

"This is only a baby step in the fight to eradicate BPA," noted Sarah Janssen, senior public health scientist at NRDC, in a statement to MedPage Today. "To truly protect the public, FDA needs to ban BPA from all food packaging. This half-hearted action, taken only after consumers shifted away from BPA in children's products, is inadequate. FDA continues to dodge the bigger questions of BPA's safety."