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Further calls for BPA free infant food packaging

By Jane Byrne , 25-Feb-2009

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should ban Bisphenol A (BPA) in children’s products and food containers, and has enough scientific data to support such a move, claims the Consumers Union (CU).

The demand from the not for profit organisation follows the update the FDA gave to its Science Board yesterday regarding its ongoing safety review of the packaging chemical.

According to the CU, the FDA tacitly acknowledged the serious health concerns regarding BPA at Tuesday’s public hearing.

BPA is used in certain packaging materials such as polycarbonates for baby food bottles. It is also used in epoxy resins for internal protective linings for canned food and metal lids.

The FDA said it is planning to analyze and conduct a series of studies to determine how BPA affects infants.

“The Consumers Union (CU) is glad that FDA will be conducting more studies, however it is clear the agency is still trying to determine if exposure limits are appropriate,” said Dr Urvashi Rangan, senior scientist and policy analyst at the CU.

He maintains that the FDA should act immediately to protect high risk populations, such as children and babies, while it gathers more data on BPA.

BPA level in blood

In addition, the CU has called on the FDA to make public all testing information on BPA and the organisation also encouraged the agency to do more bio-monitoring of blood levels of the packaging chemical in people.

The FDA's assessment of BPA has been criticised by scientists and US lawmakers.

Last year, the agency claimed the packaging chemical was safe at current levels in consumer products but it used industry-funded reports to support this assessment.

The scientific community argued that the FDA, in its review of the chemical, should have also included independent studies that raise uncertainties in regard to the potential effects of low dose exposure to BPA in humans, in particular infants.

Baby bottle ban

Canada banned the use of BPA in the manufacture of baby bottles in 2008, a move which FDA officials have described as overly cautious.

The FDA has repeatedly said that it cannot just follow Canada in this regard but instead must reach its own conclusions regarding the packaging chemical's safety.

Meanwhile bills are currently under consideration in the US states of Washington, Minnesota and Connecticut that aim to ban the use of BPA in products aimed at children under the age of three.

Last week, retailers, can manufacturers, seafood processors and other business groups testified against the proposed Washington state ban, saying that the use of BPA in food and drink containers is safe.

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