ARTIFICIAL INFANT FOODS: Minimising contamination by Bisphenol A in plastics
What is BPA and where is it found?
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used in polycarbonate plastic bottles to prevent the hard plastic from
shattering. Many brands of infant feeding bottles contain BPA, as do plastic cups, tableware and the linings of most food and drink tins and cans. Repeated heating of polycarbonate plastics may cause leaching of BPA. An artificially fed baby may thus ingest a double dose of BPA, leaching from the feeding bottle and from the tin lining into the milk powder. “Infants fed with concentrated canned infant formula have among the highest exposures of anyone eating canned foods. Infants fed canned formula with polycarbonate bottles can
consume non-negligible quantities of BPA” [reference: EFSA opinion: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/science/afc/afc_opinions/bisphenol_a.html
What is the risk to my baby?
– Babies accumulate BPA at levels more than 10 times higher than adults, since they lack a crucial liver enzyme required to break down the chemical. Although babies gradually become able to detoxify BPA, by
three-months-old they have accumulated levels about double that of adult levels. Researchers don’t know precisely when infants gain a fully developed capacity to metabolize BPA.
– Higher concentrations of BPA in urine have been linked with heart disease, type two diabetes and liver enzyme abnormalities
– BPA is an endocrine disrupter http://www.ec.europa.eu/environment/endocrine/definitions/affect_en.htm : it mimics the female hormone estrogen and may interfere with the function of the endocrine system. Animal experiments have found it to be associated with earlier onset of sexual maturity in females and breast cancer, particularly when exposure occurs to the unborn or newborn child.
– Scientists from the US National Toxicology Programme say that effects on reproductive development from
BPA in packaging cannot be ruled out.
How can I reduce my baby’s risk of exposure to BPA?
Breast milk provides babies with immunity to protect against infection, and reduces their exposure to BPA. Babies who are not breastfed need special care to reduce the risk of exposure. You should use the World Health Organization Guidelines http://www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/micro/pif2007/en and ensure that:
* You use non-polycarbonate plastic containers to heat foods or choose alternatives such as glass or
* You do not pour boiling water into polycarbonate plastic bottles to mix the powdered milk formula with
water. Instead, use a glass container to mix the feed and then cool rapidly by holding under cold running
water or by placing in a container of cold or iced water
* You do no not use microwave ovens to heat feeds because of leaching of BPA from polycarbonate plastic bottles and containers
Latest news on BPA
– WRITTEN SUBMISSION BY IBFAN TO THE STAKEHOLDER MEETING OF JOINT FAO/WHO Expert Meeting to review toxicological and health aspects of Bisphenol A Read more
– FAO/WHO have announced their Joint expert meeting to review toxicological and health aspects of Bisphenol A to be held in Canada in October 2010: http://www.who.int/foodsafety/chem/chemicals/bisphenol/en/index.html. FAO and WHO have issued a Call for Data and a Call for Experts and the following link also provides access to the Infosan 2009 issue on Bisphenol A: http://www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/fs_management/No_05_Bisphenol_A_Nov09_en.pdf
– Decisions of the upper and lower houses of Parliament in France. The French Parliament has approved the suspension of sales of polycarbonate feeding bottles containing Bisphenol A, as proposed by the French Senate in March. (May 2010) Read more
– New study finds that exposure to Bisphenol A could alter hormone levels in males. Male infertility is a growing problem and various causes have been proposed. (May 2010) Read more
– The Ministry of Health of Costa Rica has banned the use of Bisphenol A (Health Care Without Harm, April 2010). Full article
– Health Canada has said it wants infant formula makers to take action to limit the amount of BPA seeping out of can linings into the environment. (Globe and Mail, February 24 2009)
– The Canadian government formally declared BPA a hazardous substance and placed the chemical on its list of toxic substances, banning polycarbonate baby bottles that contain BPA. (The Canadian Press, October 2008)
– Bristol-Myers Squibb, manufacturers of Enfamil infant formula, spent US$840,000 (€614,040) in 2008 to
lobby US lawmakers that the materials used to line infant formula cans are safe (Associated Press, 2008)
– However, the US state of Connecticut has signed into law a bill banning the use of BPA from baby bottles
and infant food containers. The law is due to go into effect in 2011. (Food Quality News June 2009)
– And Chicago became the first city in the USA to ban baby bottles and sippy cups containing BPA. (The Chicago Sun Times May 2009)
– New findings raise more concerns over BPA: Read more…
– January 2010: the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) finally admits “concern” about BPA, but stops short of banning BPA from products used every day by pregnant and mothers and babies. The US group Momsrising has launched a campaign to urge the US Congress to adopt the Ban Poisonous Additives Act to eliminate BPA from food and beverage containers: http://www.momsrising.org/
See also the press release from the Environmental Working Group at: http://www.ewg.org/node/28400
– FAO/WHO have announced their Joint expert meeting to review toxicological and health aspects of Bisphenol A to be held in Canada in October 2010. FAO and WHO have issued a Call for Data and a Call for Experts and the following link also provides access to the Infosan 2009 issue on Bisphenol A:
– EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority is following the same path with the announcement of their “top level summit” on Bisphenol A, which is due to take place by early April 2010. The summit of national specialists will review ongoing work on BPA and examine any relevant research at country level.
More information on BPA
Opinion of the Scientific Panel on food additives, flavourings, processing aids and materials in contact with
food (AFC) related to 2,2-BIS(4-HYDROXYPHENYL)PROPANE (European Food Safety Authority, 2006) http://www.efsa.europa.eu/EFSA/efsa_locale-1178620753812_1178620772817.htm
See also past press releases and articles on contaminants and infant feeding available on the Baby Milk
What is IBFAN doing to help?
Parents have the right to know about chemicals in the products they buy for their children.
– IBFAN is working to protect the right of parents and caregivers to take informed decisions on how to feed infants and young children, free from commercial pressures and from the misinformation with which
companies promote their products.
– IBFAN exposes unfounded claims made by manufacturers and works to counteract the lobbying power of
the chemical industry with government and state authorities.
Current challenges: outrageous claims
The market for feeding bottles and teats is increasing: one company distributes an estimated 20 million
bottles every year, while in 2004 the market for bottles and teats alone was worth UD$135 million.
Companies are seeking to further expand this market: in one European country, one feeding bottle manufacturer claimed their bottles were “medical” and provided “active and natural nutrition”. In the
Middle East, another company used the promotional slogan: “It’s a natural!”
As seen above, there is nothing “natural” about these plastic infant feeding bottles.
Manufacturers should not be allowed to make such claims, especially without providing information as to the composition of the plastic. It is clear that if companies admit the toxicity of BPA at low doses, then they
expose themselves to litigation and legal class action.
It is the responsibility of governments to follow the precautionary principle by enacting legislation or by
banning clear plastic infant feeding bottles containing BPA.
On June 18 2008, Health Canada announced their ban on the import, sale and advertising of plastic polycarbonate infant feeding bottles containing BPA, following a public consultation. The Government decided
to take a precautionary stance to protect vulnerable babies and young children, after initial assessments showed BPA to be “inherently toxic”, even at low doses.
What can parents do?
It is also the responsibility of parents and care-givers to exert and maintain pressure on governments to act
in the best interests of small babies – and not in the best interests of market creation for increased company profits.
In March 2009, six firms stated their intention to stop selling shatter-proof plastic baby bottles containing BPA, bending to growing public and legal pressure. (The San Francisco Chronicle, March 2009)
But the companies will continue to sell polycarbonate baby bottles elsewhere in the world.