Bisphenol A (BPA) Found In Virtually All Canned Foods

FDA Changes Course – Now Believes Bisphenol A (BPA) Poses Safety Concern

Well, after years of contending that bisphenol A (BPA) is perfectly safe, the Food and Drug Administration has reversed course. On Friday, the FDA announced that it now considers BPA to be of some concern for effects on the brain, behavior and prostrate glands of fetuses, infants and young children (consistent with the National Toxicology Program’s findings). 

But, even though the FDA now has some concern about BPA’s safety, it claims it can’t do anything. The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reports that top FDA officials say that while BPA’s safety is uncertain, they are powerless to regulate it. Why? Because it is listed among some 3,000 chemicals that are “generally regarded as safe” and that designation exempts those chemicals from scrutiny.

As the FDA explains:

Current BPA food contact uses were approved under food additive regulations issued more than 40 years ago.  This regulatory structure limits the oversight and flexibility of FDA.  Once a food additive is approved, any manufacturer of food or food packaging may use the food additive in accordance with the regulation.  There is no requirement to notify FDA of that use. For example, today there exist hundreds of different formulations for BPA-containing epoxy linings, which have varying characteristics.  As currently regulated, manufacturers are not required to disclose to FDA the existence or nature of these formulations.  Furthermore, if FDA were to decide to revoke one or more approved uses, FDA would need to undertake what could be a lengthy process of rulemaking to accomplish this goal.

So, FDA is going to study BPA some more. And it is looking for some legislative help so that it can regulate BPA, at least according to the officials quoted by the Milwaukee Sentinel. But that doesn’t help the rest of us very much if we are looking for ways to avoid BPA exposure, particularly if you are pregnant, or have young children.

And it isn’t very satisfying that at this late date, more than 10 years after leading scientists questioned BPA’s safety, that the FDA is reaching this decision but taking the position it can’t do anything. More stalling at the behest of the chemical industry?

The American Chemistry Council continues to proclaim that BPA is perfectly safe, because, as the ACC always says, BPA has not been proven harmful to children or adults. The FDA held a conference call on Friday for some media to discuss BPA. And while I was not invited, I avidly followed one of the journalists who was tweeting the call. And she kept tweeting statements of the ACC representative about how safe BPA was and how all the studies were flawed because they failed to account for human metabolization of BPA. When I tweeted at her to ask about the fact that infants under 3 months lack the full complement of enzymes necessary to metabolize BPA (and fetuses have none), the ACC representative completely dismissed the scientific studies. If you don’t know who the ACC is, it is an organization whose members include Monsanto, Bayer, Merck, DuPont and many others. And the FDA has been accused of being too cozy with the chemical industry lobbyists, including the chair of the FDA panel taking a $5 million donation.

And to be honest, the FDA’s reversal really annoys the heck out of me after FDA Acting Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach, MD’s article, Andy’s Take on BPA from August of 2008. In his article, he stated that “with progress comes peril!” He then argued that “science creates these products and science must inform us of their risks.” So, he contended that until science showed us that BPA was unsafe, we should assume that it is safe. Which seemed like a bunch of bunk to me. If you believe that “with progress comes peril”, then it seems to me that you would take a cautious approach, and instead have science inform us that a chemical was safe before it was used.

So what can you do if you want to avoid BPA? Well, skip polycarbonate plastic and avoid canned foods and beverages. And you really might want to, particularly if you are pregnant. In a non-scientific CBS Early Show experiment, Kelly Wallace ate a sandwich made from canned tuna, and had her blood drawn. She then spent 2 days avoiding BPA, and had her blood drawn again. The first set of blood samples showed a BPA level five times higher than what is found in the average US woman. 

To avoid canned foods and beverages, go for fresh, frozen, dried or jarred in glass or a plastic other than polycarconate. Polycarbonate is in the #7 “other plastic” group. Not all #7 plastic is polycarbonate, however. If you need BPA free feeding gear for kids and babies, check out my dear friend’s website, The Soft Landing. If you need a guide, check out Z Recommends’ The ZRecs Guide for advice on BPA-free children’s products.

Massachusetts Issues Public Health Advisory to Parents About Bisphenol A (BPA)

bottle feeding babyToday the Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued an advisory for bisphenol A. The DPH specifically advises parents of childrens up to 2 years old to avoid baby products containing bisphenol A (BPA) for making or storing infant food or formula. And the statement also warns pregnant women to steer clear of canned foods and beverages because of the BPA in the epoxy lining, which may result in fetal exposure.

If you aren’t caught up on the BPA debate, you might want to read some BPA basics.

It is interesting that the Massachusetts DPH is issuing this advisory just a few weeks after the leaked memorandum from a meeting of the canned food and beverage industry in which the industry representatives described a pregnant woman who would tout the safety of BPA to be the “holy grail.” Hmmm  . . perhaps not in Massachusetts.

To avoid BPA, you need to avoid polycarbonate plastic containers for storing food and drink. This means polycarbonate plastic baby bottles. But it also means the 5 gallon water bottles used for home water delivery as well.

You also find BPA in the epoxy linings of most canned food and beverage in the United States. Instead, go for fresh, frozen, dried, or jarred. In terms of infant formula, powdered is generally better than liquid, although it is my understanding the Similac 32 ounce plastic container for prepared liquid formula is BPA free.

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Health Canada Reports BPA Free Baby Bottles Leach Bisphenol A?

Last week, it was reported that Health Canada had found some allegedly bisphenol A (BPA) free baby bottles nonetheless leached BPA. Well, upon further digging, it appears that very low levels of BPA were found in fluid held in some BPA free baby bottles, but that the source may simply be BPA in “dust” from manufacturing or perhaps even the lab or some other problem. The report has numerous critics, and not just from industry. Truly, it appears that the study has significant flaws. In any event, I was going to prepare a long, detailed post but, thank god, Jennifer and Jeremy at Z Recommends already did it. So, I’m just going to link to their most awesome, detailed, incredible post digging into the story. Go read it.

And if you are tired of worrying about what is in your baby’s plastic bottles or sippy cups, you can try glass or stainless steel. Check out OrganicKidz stainless steel baby bottles, for example.

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Ready to piss off a mom blogger? Seek a pregnant woman to consume BPA lined canned goods

Looking for a job? If you are pregnant, I’ve got one for you:

WANTED: Young, pregnant mother to act as spokesperson. Must be willing to drink liquids and eat foods from metal canned foods and beverages. Must also execute full release and waiver for any and all birth defects or other harm suffered by fetus.

Think I’m kidding? Unfortunately, I’m not.

woman opening  canned goodsAn unbelievable memo summarizing a May 28, 2009 meeting of canned food and beverage industry representatives to combat the legislative efforts to restrict the use of bisphenol A (BPA) seeks the “holy grail” spokesperson – a “pregnant young mother who would be willing to speak around the country about the benefits of BPA.” The meeting minutes were obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the points verified by John Rost, chairman of the North American Metal Packaging Alliance (NAMPA), who only quibbled with the minutes because the meeting was 5 hours long. Kathleen Roberts, a lobbyist representing NAMPA, organized the meeting and also confirmed the accuracy of the notes, reported the Washington Post.

And, if the pregnant woman doesn’t convince you to drink the punch, well then, they will scare you. They will argue that without BPA, you won’t have access to baby food – ignoring that other packaging methods exist. And if scaring you doesn’t work, then they will focus on “the impact of BPA bans on minorities (Hispanic and African American) and poor” since, apparently they believe these groups eat more canned food but don’t care about the health of their children?

If you didn’t know, BPA is found in the linings of virtually all canned foods and beverages in the US, except for Eden’s Organics beans. So, you get dosed with BPA every time you consume metal canned foods and beverages, such that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found BPA in 93% of us.

BPA is linked to a host of adverse health effects. It is an endocrine disruptor – meaning it interferes with the body’s hormone system. A recent study found prenatal exposure to BPA feminizes male monkeys. There are numerous studies documenting adverse health effects in animals. Even if you don’t want to believe the more than 100 hundred studies that have found that BPA causes hormone disruption and other health effects, the National Toxicology Program found “some concern” (a 3 on its 5 point scale) for effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants and children at current levels of exposure. And a large study of humans found BPA exposure linked to heart disease and diabetes.

So, um, yeah, let’s have a pregnant woman tout the benefits of BPA.

I’m so pissed. How stupid do these industry representatives think we are? They think that if they pick the right “messaging” (which the industry will discover through at $500,000 survey of consumer perceptions and messaging), we will ignore the growing body of evidence of adverse health effects associated with BPA exposure? That we can’t separate the fact from the fiction?

Hmm, you know, I’m perfectly capable of analyzing a press release. Take NAMPA’s press release following the Milwaukee’s JS story, in which NAMPA whines that the industry’s viewpoint is ignored by media and that governmental agencies consistently determine that BPA is safe. Well, the FDA’s assessment of BPA’s safety has been roundly criticized, even by the FDA’s own Scientific Advisory Board, which found that the FDA has created a “false sense of security” about BPA’s safety. That’s right, a FALSE sense of security. And evidence just surfaced that the FDA personnel were just too cozy with industry lobbyists and representatives. Oh, and by the way, although the National Toxicology Program isn’t a regulatory body, it is highly respecte. And it did NOT conclude that BPA was safe. Health Canada didn’t conclude BPA was safe.

So, instead of spending money to explore alternatives, the industry wants to spend money convincing us women (because, well, we do make most of the household buying decisions) that BPA is safe using a pregnant woman. Yep, that’s right, you will be persuaded by a young mother telling you BPA is safe.

Or, the industry will scare us that without BPA, we will die from contaminated canned foods. Well, Japan has made significant strides in alternatives to BPA containing epoxy resins for canned foods. And, Eden’s Foods uses oleoresin for its beans (and yes, I know that oleoresin won’t work for tomato-based or other acidic produts).  Or, they will scare people that we won’t have canned foods. Well, instead of canned, you can choose fresh, frozen, dried, or jarred in glass, or, my least favorite option, a BPA free plastic.

The memo indicates that the industry representatives and companies involved – Coca-Cola, Alcoa, Crown, North American Metal Packaging Alliance, Inc., Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), American Chemistry Council, Del Monte – want a “grassroots” effort. So let’s give them a grassroots effort of mommy bloggers speaking out about BPA, the potential health effects, and the options for BPA-free products.

Let’s not play nice with our children’s health.

Let’s raise our voices, moms! We got BPA out of most baby bottles. Let’s tell the industry enough is enough. Don’t try to fool us – do something proactive instead. Find a solution.

Are you ready to join us? Speaking out, my friend Sommer from Green and Clean Mom says “Talk to the Hand”. She’s got a plethora of Tweets about what we think about the industry’s back door meeting. But I love how she points out the irony that companies love mommy bloggers when they want us to sell something and be brand evangelists, but that we are hysterical and just don’t understand the science when we question product safety or environmental standards.

SafeMama says manufacturers are getting scared because we are smart. We educated ourselves about the hazards of BPA, and are seeking alternatives and demanding legislation.

Jenn Savedge (author of The Green Parent: A Kid-Friendly Guide to Environmentally-Friendly Living
and The Green Teen: The Eco-Friendly Teen’s Guide to Saving the Planet) at Mother Nature Network urges us to prove industry wrong.

And my friend Alicia from The Soft Landing (with a fabulous online store of BPA free items, among other things), asks who are the fear mongerers now? After accusing us of being fear mongerers, the industry representatives have decided to turn the tables to encourage their primary customers, women between 21 and 35, to stick with canned foods. And she cries foul.

Lisa from Retro Housewife . . . Goes Green reminds us that the FDA, tasked with protecting the safety of food contact items, is in bed with the BPA industry and wants us to use the power we have to stop this travesty.

Katy, over at Non Toxic Kids, is angry. Really angry. She wants green mamas moved to action.

This post received a Great Green Post Award from Green Moms Review!

The Great Green Post Award

What is bisphenol A (BPA)?

bpa free“What is BPA?” is a top topic over at Mamapedia.  And, today I got asked again what bisphenol A (BPA) by a colleague at work. And since I thought that I talked incessantly about BPA, lead and other chemicals at work and that everybody already knew what it was, it surprised me. So, I thought I would answer the question “what is BPA” in the context of parenting.

And I promise only a little tiny bit of chemisty.

Basically, BPA is an organic compound.  It is a basic monomer, or building block, of polycarbonate plastic.  Polycarbonate plastic is a clear, shatterproof hard plastic used for lots of things, including food storage containers and often baby bottles. For example, most 5 gallon water jugs are polycarbonate plastic. 

BPA is also used in epoxy resins. Epoxy resins are used, among other uses, to line virtually all canned foods and beverages in the United States. 

We are exposed to BPA when it leaches into our food from the linings. Migration of BPA from the linings of canned foods has be well documented. BPA also leaches from polycarbonate plastic, particularly when the storage container is heated or hot food stuff is added to the storage container, when harsh detergents are used, or when acidic substances are stored in polycarbonate. 

BPA is also an endocrine disruptor, which means basically that it interferes with the body’s hormone signaling system.  It mimics the hormone estrogen. In fact, for some history, BPA was investigated along with DES in the 1930’s as a synthetic hormone treatment for various conditions, but DES was chosen over BPA. 

Virtually all Americans have BPA in their systems.  The Centers of Disease Control’s biomonitoring has shown that 93% of us have BPA in us. Whether the low levels are sufficient to cause harm has been the subject of must debate, which I’ve blogged about repeatedly.  The National Toxicology Program (NTP) has found “some concern” (a 3 on the NTP’s 5 point scale) for effects on the brain, behavior and prostrate gland in fetuses, infants and children at current levels of exposure.  The FDA’s conclusion that BPA is safe has been roundly criticized, including by the board of scientific experts convened by the FDA to assess FDA’s report. The experts accused FDA of creating a false sense of security by overlooking a wide range of important studies. 

In addition to being an endocrine disruptor, a large study of humans found the exposure to high levels of BPA increases the risk of diabetes 2 and heart disease. 

So that’s basically what BPA is, and where you are most likely to find it.  And a little bit about the debate over BPA’s safety. If you want more on the science of doubt and the BPA, I urge you to read Fast Company’s great article.  

If you want to minimize your exposure to BPA, you need to skip polycarbonate plastic.  Not sure how to identify polycarbonate plastic? Polycarbonate plastic falls in the #7 recycling code (really a resin identification code).  Number 7 means “other plastic” (meaning other than plastics 1 through 6). So polycarbonate plastic will be identified by #7, but not all #7 is polycarbonate. In place of polycarbonate plastic, try glass or stainless steel instead for food storage and drink containers, like Kleen Kanteen. For 5 gallon water jugs, you can try glass if you have it in your community.  I’ve got some simple steps to reduce your baby’s exposure to BPA.  But, for baby and kid products, I urge you to use Z Recommends guide for evaluating safer products.  

For canned foods and beverages, some Eden’s Food canned goods (not the tomato products) are BPA free. Instead of canned, use fresh, frozen, dried, or jarred. It sounds like it is hard, but trust me, you can get almost anything in a container other than polycarbonate plastic.

Warning: These baby bottles and canned goods contain a chemical known to cause reproductive harm

canned food goodsWould you buy a can of beans with a warning on it that it may contain a chemical known to the state of California to cause reproductive harm?


What about a baby bottle?


If you live in California, you are probably familiar with Proposition 65’s standard warning. Even if you don’t realize it.


You’ve probably seenproposition 65 warning sign a warning at the gas station. Or perhaps on some adhesives or similar consmer products. Or for alcoholic beverages.


A Proposition 65 warning sign is placed on consumer products or posted in areas to give warnings to consumers that using the product or being in the area can expose them to a chemical or chemicals that cause cancer and/or birth defects or other reproductive harm.


Proposition 65 requires a warning – it doesn’t prohibit the sale of the items. Just a warning.


But would you buy canned goods with such a warning?


Why do I ask? Because the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) published notice that it will consider adding bisphenol A (BPA) to the list of chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm. BPA is being proposed to be added as a development toxicant. The meeting to consider adoption is set for July 15, 2009. I don’t know whether it will be adopted or not, but I’m just wondering what will happen if it is.


You might not be very familiar with BPA, buy you probably have it in your body. Biomonitoring found that 93% of Americans have BPA in their systems.


BPA is a basic monomer of polycarbonate plastic, so it is found in polycarbonate plastic containers. Polycarbonate is used for baby bottles, many of the 5 gallon water bottles, and other similar hard plastic containers. It is also used for the lining of most canned foods and beverages.


Proposition 65 requires a warning unless the business can establish that there is no exposure from use of the product above the significant risk level (for carcinogens) or the no observable effects level (for chemicals that cause reproductive harm). However, Proposition 65 allows a business to place a warning on a product if the company based on its knowledge, or assumption, that a Proposition 65 listed chemical is present without attempting to evaluate the levels of exposure. Companies do this because it is less expensive than to undertake a risk assessment. So companies slap on labels on products based upon the presumption of listed chemicals being present in products, such as lead and phthalates in polyvinyl chloride plastic.


Putting a label on may not reduce product sales for product such as auto or hardware products, but I imagine it will give consumers pause on a canned food or baby bottle. But, if BPA is added, without the identification of a regulatory “no risk” level, then those canned goods will have to contain such a label. Otherwise, companies will be subject to Proposition 65 lawsuits. The thing about Prop 65 is that it contains a bounty hunter provision, which allows private enforcement, and allows plaintiff firms to recover attorneys’s fees. Proposition 65 also has a penalty provision of up to $2,500 per day for each violation. So, because of that, many firms just put labels on products that may contain listed chemicals that could result in exposure to protect themselves from suits.


But BPA is found in so many products. Now, a warning probably wouldn’t be required for a bike helmet, for example, made of polycarbonate plastic because there isn’t any exposure. But for food contact items, it is established that BPA leaches out of polycarbonate plastic and the linings of canned food. Which may mean that such companies are driven to found alternatives to avoid warnings.


In any event, it will be interesting to see what develops. Now, if you don’t want to be exposed to BPA, which is a hormone disruptor and is potentially harmful to fetuses and babies, you can skip polycarbonate plastic for food storage. For canned foods, go for fresh, frozen, dried or jarred instead of metal cans.


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FDA Subcommitee Harshly Critical of Draft Safety Report on Bisphenol A (BPA)

babyI recently expressed concern about whether the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Subcommitee reviewing the FDA’s draft safety assessment of the use of bisphenol A (BPA) could provide a fair review.  I expressed concern because it had been revealed that Subcommittee Chairman Prof. Philbert had failed to disclose a significant donation from pro-plastics contributor Charles Gelman to the chairman’s research center at the Univ. of Michigan.  To resolve that question, the FDA Chair has issued a letter stating that he agrees with the findings of the review conducted by William McConagh a of FDA’s Office of Accountability and Integrity.  That review found that the $5,000,000 donation made by Charles Gelman and the unrestricted grant to the University of Michigan from Dow Chemical for a risk study of dioxin do not require Prof. Philbert to recuse himself but he nevertheless recommends that Prof. Philbert refrain from voting on the questions before the Board relating to BPA.


In any event, imagine my surprise to learn that the Subcommittee’s scientific peer-review report roundly criticizes the FDA’s draft BPA safety assessment.  So perhaps science isn’t for sale after all, at least with respect to the Subcommitee.


Okay, to catch you up, low level exposure to BPA has been linked to hormone disrupting effects in laboratory animals.  BPA is the key monomer of polycarbonate plastic, used for baby bottles.  BPA is also found in the epoxy resins used to line virtually all canned foods and beverages.  BPA can leach out of polycarbonate plastic and the epoxy resins and into your food.  Whether the effects seen in laboratory animals are likely to occur in humans based upon current levels of exposure is subject to much intense debate in the scientific community.  The National Toxicology Program (NTP) issued a report finding the risk a 3 on the NTP’s 5 point scale for 3 health endpoints.  The FDA has maintained that BPA is safe.


In August of this year, the FDA issued a draft report finding BPA safe.  Then, the FDA convenened a Subcommitee to review the draft report.  I thought that the Subcommitee would be, in essence a rubber stamp.


But surprise, surprise, the FDA’s Subcommitee does not agree with the draft safety assessment on BPA.  In fact, it is pretty critical of it.  It finds that the “draft FDA report does not articulate reasonable and appropriate scientific support for the criteria applied to select data for use in the assessment.  Specifically, the Subcommittee does not agree that the large number of non-GLP [good laboratory practice] studies should be excluded from use in the safety assessment.”  The report goes on to state “[c]oupling together the available qualitative and quantitative information (including the application of uncertainty factors) provides a sufficient scientific basis to conclude that the Margins of Sfatey defined by the FDA as ‘adequate’ are, in fact, inadequate.”


Okay, so what does that mean?


Well, what it means is that the peer reviewed assessment of the FDA’s draft report on BPA is telling the FDA that the draft report is inadequate.  The Subcommitee has particular criticisms – it finds that the FDA didn’t use enough infant formula samples and didn’t adequately account of variations among the samples.  It also finds that the FDA didn’t take into account multiple sources of BPA exposure.  But it also is particularly critical of the FDA’s wholesale discounting of studies found adequate by the NTP.  And, I think that this is most important.  The Subcommittee harshly criticizes the FDA for discounting or failing to consider scores of studies that have linked BPA to adverse health effects in animals.


Is the debate over?  No.  The Subcommitee’s report will be considered as part of a briefing on October 31, 2008.  What is likely is that more research will be approved.  And, in the interim, the FDA has issued a Statement on the release of the Subcommitee’s report, pointing out that “the present consensus among regulatory agenices in the United Sates, Canada, Europe and Japan is that current levels of exposure to BPA through food packaging do not pose an immediate health risk to the general population, including infants and babies.”


In light of the animal studies and the conclusion from the NTP finding “some” concern for effects on the prostate, brain and behavior, you may not want to take that risk.  So, if you want to try to avoid BPA, skip polycarbonate plastic.  Lots of alternatives exist – and don’t cost any more than polycarbonate plastic.  So you can play it safe.  Also, instead of canned foods and beverages, go for jarred, fresh, frozen or dried.

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Some sleuthing, some PR issues and the Beaba Babycook BPA Free

Beaba BabycookI just read on Healthy Child Healthy World’s blog that the Beaba Babycook is now free of bisphenol A (BPA).  Not familiar with the Babycook?  It is a combination steamer, blender, warmer and defroster for preparing homemade baby food.  I’ve personally never used it, but it gets great reviews over at Amazon.


But, the Babycook has been subject to much frustration among green parents because of confusing information as to whether it was free of the hormone-disrupting chemical BPA.  And Healthy Child guest blogger Jeremiah McNichols of Z Recommends posts a great sleuthing story with a happy ending – the Babycook is now BPA-free. 


The tale Jeremiah tells regarding getting information from Beaba is much the same as my own.  On behalf of a Smart Mama reader in May, 2008, I investigated the Beaba Babycook.  The Williams Sonoma website identified it as having some polycarbonate plastic components, and the reader wanted to know if it was free of bisphenol A (BPA), the hormone disruptor.  She had actually gotten different information from the manufacturer, Beaba.  And, since BPA is a key monomer of polycarbonate plastic, we dashed off an email to find out.


The first response from Beaba was not particularly enlightening:




Dear Customer,



The baby cook bowl is made of a specific and technical raw material but it is not Polycarbonate (PC). Then our product complies with European and USA standard (including FDA).


This email response didn’t really answer the question and I didn’t have any luck with phone calls to Williams Sonoma or Beaba in France.  So, I asked a follow up and then got this response:




Concerning your request, please find attached some elements of answer.



All our products are regularly tested by independent laboratories and comply with the European standards, moreover known as very strict and severe. There is a standard for all the intended nursery items for liquid and solid food. In these specifications, a test is made to determine the quantity of Bisphénol A being able to migrate. It is impossible in Europe to sell a product intended for the children, having a risk of letting a too important quantity of Bisphénol A propagate (the threshold of eligibility of this substance given by the standard is moreover very low).


I give you as information, the main materials used in our products: 



–     Babycook: polypropylene PP and PSU (technical and specific raw material). There is no polycarbonate (PC) in the Baby Cook.




Small and big food jar: Polycarbonate PC.


Indeed the polycarbonate contains it, for the other materials, it is delicate to take position, there is potentially part of bisphénol A in the original components of material but residues are not necessarily present in the final polymer. Sorry for this partial answer but we try to answer to most of the European + the USA (notably for the baby cook) standards.

Having learned that the jars were polycarbonate plastic and that the Babycook itself contains PSU (which can have BPA), the Smart Mama reader decided not to purchase it, and I left the story at that, having become completely fed up.


But Jeremiah reports that Svan, in discussions with Beaba about taking over distribution, got the issue cleaned up.  And Svan confirms that the Babycook is BPA-free.

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NTP Issues Final Report – Bisphenol A or BPA Exposures May Harm Babies and Kids

Finally, the US Department of Health and Human Services’ National Toxicology Program (“NTP”) has issued its final report on bisphenol A (BPA).  And the NTP expressed some concern about the potential health effects associated with BPA exposuers at the current levels to which we are exposed.

For background, tThe NTP uses a 5 point scale of concern – negligible, minimal, some, concern and serious.  The NTP’s final report on BPA found:

  • The NTP has some concern for effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children at current human exposures to BPA.

  • The NTP has minimal concern for effects on the mammary gland and an earlier age for puberty for females in fetuses, infants and children at current human exposures to BPA.

  • The NTP has negligible concern that exposure of pregnant women to BPA will result in fetal or neonatal mortality, birth defects or reduced birth weight and growth in their offspring.

  • The NTP has negligible concern that exposure to BPA will cause reproductive effects in non-occupationally exposed adults and minimal concern for workers exposed to higher levels in occupational settings.

In connection with the report, NTP Associate Director John Bucher, Ph.D., stated “There remains considerable uncertainty whether the changes seen in the animal studies are directly applicable to humans, and whether they would result in clear adverse health effects.  But we have concluded that the possibility that BPA may affect human development cannot be dismissed.” 


How should consumers react and what should they do?  Well, the NTP doesn’t provide much advice.  CERHR Director Michael Shelby, Ph.D., stated “if parents are concerned, they can make the personal choice to reduce exposures of their infants and children to BPA.”


Will this end the debate?  No.  In fact, I recently go into a debate on the subject after Mommy Myth Buster posted that BPA being harmful was a myth.  I happen to disagree that it is a myth.  I don’t think uncertainty makes something a myth.  That being said, I do think, however, that it is clear that the science on the issue is uncertain.  The low dose animal studies are just that, animal studies.  Making those studies relevant to humans involves analysis and assumptions.  And the animal studies are not necessarily relevant to humans – rodents, for example, process BPA differently so whether the adverse health effects seen in rodents apply to humans is not yet answered. 


But reports continue to document adverse health effects associated with BPA exposure.  Just this week, scientists at the Yale School of Medicine have found that “exposure to low-dose BPA may have widespread effects on brain structure and function.”  The study found that low dose BPA exposure may lead to disruption in memory and learning, and depression.  Or, as TreeHugger put it – “BPA may make you stupid and depressed.”  What is important about this study is that it involved monkeys – and monkeys process BPA more like humans, as opposed to rodents.  This is the first time BPA has been linked to health problems in primates. 


The study’s authors suggeste that the EPA should lower its current acceptable level for human exposure to BPA.


The FDA continues to maintain that BPA is safe.  The FDA recently issued its draft report declaring BPA to be safe.  Specifically, the FDA’s draft report states the “FDA has concluded that an adequate margin of safety exists for BPA at current levels of exposure from food contact uses.”  The draft report was issued in advanced of a meeting scheduled for September 16 – methinks the meeting will be very interesting . . .


And the industry?  The American Chemistry Council responded to the NTP’s report with the statement that “There is no direct evidence that exposure to bisphenol A adversely affects human reproduction or development.” 


So, what can a parent do if the experts can’t decide?  The health effects from very small dosages that only recently could be detected are just now being understood.  Recent research has shown harmful effects in animals at low levels (levels consistent with human exposure).  Emerging, substantial evidence indicates that BPA can harm laboratory animals at concentrations below the daily levels to which most of us are already exposed.  In fact, the Chapel Hill panel’s consensus statement evaluated the strength of data from more than 700 BPA studies and labeled as “confident” its assessment that BPA at low doses has had a negative effect on experimental animals.  The panel concluded that BPA exposure in the womb can permanently alter genes of animals, impair organ function in was that persist into adulthood, and trigger brain, behavioral and reproductive effects, including diminished sperm production. 


I think that with the NTP finding “some concern” – or a 3 on the NTP’s 5 point scale – caution is in order.  I think it is prudent to reduce exposure to BPA for pregnant women or women trying to get pregnant, babies and young children.  With so many alternatives on the market, why not minimize the risk?  As my mom use to safe, better safe than sorry.

 As Scott M. Belcher, PhD, Associate Professor and University of Cincinnati and lead researcher in BPA says, “You have to estimate the relative benefit and understand the possible risks, or the fact that the risk is unclear because the science is lacking.  There are many “maybes” in the equation.  But what is known is that BPA has estrogen-like activity.”  His conclusion?  “Based on my knowledge of the scientific data, there is a reason for caution.  I have made a decision for myself not to use polycarbonate plastic water bottles.” 

 


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