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FDA acknowledges BPA risks—but falls short

In a shift of position, the Food & Drug Administration announced in January that it now has “some concern” about the possible health risks caused by the chemical Bisphenol A. As recently as 2008, the FDA had reiterated its longtime stance that BPA was safe at the low levels found in some plastic bottles and other food containers.

Notably, the FDA’s earlier stance differed from the National Toxicology Program’s. In 2008, the NTP concluded that BPA was of "some concern for effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children at current human exposures." FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg now says the FDA agrees with that assessment, and supports efforts to produce BPA-free baby bottles and finding alternatives to BPA for can linings.

CONSUMERS UNION CALLS FOR A BAN ON BPA

While acknowledging the FDA has taken a step in the right direction, Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, expressed disappointment with the FDA’s failure to restrict or ban BPA in all materials that come into contact with food.

"FDA's admission of concern with BPA is an encouraging change in its position and we hope it will lead to concrete protection for consumers. However, we are concerned that the new advice on reducing exposure puts the onus on consumers to protect themselves until such a ban is put in place," said Dr. Urvashi Rangan, Director of Technical Policy.

"The scientific evidence is clear that BPA poses serious health risks, especially to children and the developing fetus. It is time for FDA and Congress to act quickly to ban this toxin from all food and beverage containers, she added."

WHAT YOU CAN DO

In the meantime, experts say that consumers who are concerned might be able to reduce, though not necessarily eliminate, their dietary exposure to BPA by taking the following steps:

• Choose fresh food whenever possible.
• Consider alternatives to canned food, beverages, juices, and infant formula.
• Use glass containers when heating food in microwave ovens.

RELATED LINKS

BPA in plastics and canned foods 1/10
NBC Today Show, Concerns about BPA in plastic bottles 1/10
Concern over canned foods 12/09


 
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