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30-07-2012 | Paediatrics | Article

FDA partial ban of bisphenol A raises questions

Abstract

US FDA website

MedWire News: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned the use of polycarbonate resins, including bisphenol A (BPA), in the manufacture of infant feeding bottles and spill-proof or "sippy" cups.

The ruling was made in response to a petition from the American Chemistry Council (ACC) asking for the regulations to be revised.

However, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), whose petition to the FDA for a ban on BPA in all consumer products was rejected last year, says that the partial ban comes too late to offer much in the way of benefit as most baby bottles and spill-proof cups are already BPA free.

NRDC senior scientist Sarah Janssen told the press: "This is only a baby step in the fight to eradicate BPA. 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."

Previous research has linked BPA exposure to an increased risk for diabetes, reproductive disorders, and cardiovascular disease, but most studies were carried out in animals and the FDA and European Food Safety Agency say that current evidence of such adverse effects in humans following exposure to consumer products containing BPA and other polycarbonate resins is not convincing.

The FDA partial ban will help resolve confusion about whether BPA is added to baby bottles and cups, says ACC representative Steven Hentges, although he maintains that the ACC has no concerns about the safety of BPA.

"Although governments around the world continue to support the safety of BPA in food contact materials, confusion about whether BPA is used in baby bottles and sippy cups had become an unnecessary distraction to consumers, legislators and state regulators," he commented in a press statement.

"FDA action on this request now provides certainty that BPA is not used to make the baby bottles and sippy cups on store shelves, either today or in the future."

Public health expert David Dausey, from Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania, USA, supports the viewpoint of the NRDC.

He told the press: "We can and should do more to protect our children and families from harmful chemicals. The FDA's recent ban on BPA is just a symbolic gesture that needs to be followed up with real regulations and real laws that force manufactures and the chemical industry to be accountable for their products and prove that they are safe before they are brought to market."

While its current position supports that of the ACC, the FDA says it is continuing research and monitoring of studies to try and resolve uncertainties about the safety of BPA.

MedWire (www.medwire-news.md) is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Helen Albert, Senior MedWire Reporter

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