Expert Panel Disagrees with FDA Position on Safety of Chemical BPA

A independent panel of outside advisers to the FDA have concluded that the agency’s statement that the plastic bottle chemical bisphenol A (BPA) is safe for use in consumer products does not consider all available and credible scientific evidence.

Bisphenol A, commonly referred to as BPA, is a chemical used to manufacturer shatterproof polycarbonate, a type of plastic. For years, it has been commonly used in baby feeding bottles, the inner linings of soda cans, food storage containers and water bottles.

In recent years, concerns have emerged about the health effects of BPA, as reports have indicated that trace amounts of BPA that leaches out of the containers and contaminate the food and water inside.

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While most adults and older children effectively excrete BPA in their urine, preventing build up of toxic amounts, some experts have suggested that very young children could accumulate BPA over time, resulting in chronic toxicity. Since BPA mimics the action of natural estrogen, excess amounts may affect the reproductive, immune and neurological development of infants.

In response to the emerging concerns, the FDA released a statement in August 2008 indicating that BPA was safe for use in baby feeding bottles and other consumer products, as the amounts of the plastic bottle chemical used were too small to be toxic.

An advisory panel of outside experts was convened by the FDA to discuss the potential health concerns surrounding BPA on September 16, 2008. According to a report released by the advisory panel on Tuesday, the experts stated that “the margins of safety defined by FDA as ‘adequate’ are, in fact, inadequate.”

The panel indicates that the FDA has not considered all of the available credible scientific evidence. The agency has been urged to undertake more research on BPA and the health effects it has on humans.

In a statement released by the FDA, the agency indicates they intend to review the advisory panel’s report at a meeting of the Scientific Board tomorrow. However, they stood by their position that the “current levels of exposure to BPA through food packaging do not pose an immediate health risk to the general population, including infants and babies.”

As a result of the FDA’s prior failure to take any actions to limit or ban the use of BPA in the United States, the attorney generals of several states sent letters last month to manufacturers of baby products, such as Playtex Products Inc., Handicraft Co., Disney First Years, Gerber, Avent America Inc., and Evenflo Co., and formula makers Nature’s One, Mead Johnson, Abbott, Wyeth and PBM Products, asking them to stop selling baby products containing BPA.

In Canada, the government announced last week that regulations are being drafted to ban the use of BPA in any baby feeding bottles due to the potential health concerns surrounding the polycarbonate bottles.

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