A Weak FDA: BPA Toxicity Needs More Research, but Let’s Keep Using It…

Last Friday, the FDA issued its most updated position on Bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical widely used in food packaging. A chemical that has some unfortunate side effects, due to the fact that it mimics human hormone estrogen. We’ll get to that in a bit.

The FDA was petitioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) four years ago. The request:  Ban the use of BPA in the lining of cans and plastic bottles.

What you need to know:

BPA behaves like the hormone estrogen once it enters the body and disturbs the normal working of certain genes. Estrogen mimicking chemicals like BPA are potentially harmful even at very low doses, such as those found in plastic bottles and cans.

Toxicity questions have been around for decades, raising safety issue, especially for babies who ingest a proportionally larger amount due to their small size. Potential problems include hyperactivity, learning disabilities, brain damage, and immune deficiencies.

Over 200 animal studies that have linked BPA consumption in tiny amounts to a host of reproductive problems, brain damage, immune deficiencies, metabolic abnormalities, and behavioral oddities like hyperactivity, learning deficits and reduced maternal willingness to nurse offspring.

Here’s what the FDA’s own website has to say about FDA:

…On the basis of results from recent studies using novel approaches to test for subtle effects, both the National Toxicology Program at the National Institutes of Health and FDA have some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children…

It would seem to us that when in doubt, the mosre conservative approach should be taken. Why should parents subject their kids to a “wait and see” policy only to discover 10-15 years later that their child got cancer?

Guilty until proven innocent is the approach to take with food additives. Doesn’t it make sense to assume a chemical is toxic until it has been unequivocally been cleared as safe?

Not if you are a a lobbyist representing the powerful chemical industry. Not if you are a weak regulatory body with revolving doors to the lucrative industries you are supposed to be regulating. Too bad we can’t learn from Europe – France recently announced the ban of BPA, effective January 2014.

What to do at the supermarket:

Here are recommendations from NRDC:

  • Don’t use polycarbonate plastics (marked with a #7 PC) for storing food or beverages, especially if you are pregnant, nursing or the food or drink is for an infant or young child.
  • Avoid canned beverages, foods and soups, especially if pregnant or feeding young children. Choose frozen vegetables and soups and broth that come in glass jars or in aseptic “brick” cartons, as these containers are BPA-free.

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  • http://www.thefrugaldietitian.com/ Frugaldieitian

    Like you mentioned, there are many BPA free items in the marketplace. The consumer and their wallet always speaks loudest. Why does the consumer always have to have govt intervention?

    Like the colas decreasing their sugar content. This was done because of consumer’s health and of course eventually making the manufacturers look like they care. I am just wondering why can’t the consumer just decrease their sugar-laden cola intake on their own?

    The consumer and thus their kids continue to eat unhealthy foods and increase obesity. We need more personal responsibility. Why do we only blame government and food manufacturers?

    • Gerome

      I believe the consumer needs to know which packaging has BPA. Certainly informed people would vote with their wallets as you suggest — but for that to work, the package MUST tell you that it does or does not have BPA, right?  I think that many people also believe that if a product can be sold, it has to be reasonably nutritious — or at least not harmful. This is however, not the case. I think a little goverment regulation in the name of keeping toxins out of my groceries is A-Okay.

  • JoeysZoo

    Frugal, I wish it were that simple.  You haven’t factored in either poverty or ignorance into the equation.   There are so many people that are unaware of the shitty food they eat.  I was one of them, but we’re trying.   I subscribe to this blog.  It’s good education in plain English.  I showed my kids the articles here on the “pink food-like substance” and they heard about pink slime in the news and they no longer EVER want to go to McDonald’s.   I hope they develop better habits than I have.  

    So now vegetables.  We like the canned vegetables, have developed a taste for them.  I never knew they were dangerous, I thought “hey the kids are eating veggies, yay!”   We’ve mostly always eaten them canned as they are cheaper.  I just wrote a letter to Green Giant/General Mills and asked them to stop using BPA after reading this article.  Will I continue to buy canned?  No.  Unless they stop with the BPA.  Education of the masses is key.  John Cheese wrote this article and he is Spot On: http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-5-stupidest-habits-you-develop-growing-up-poor/ 

    • Jennie

       There are so many people that are unaware of the shitty beliefs they cherish. Stupid-assed beliefs like BPA is toxic at levels in our environment. Stupid-assed beliefs like these asswipes think they are smarter than FDA or scientists. These shitty jackass foodies are unaware they are dumber than their own shit. They shit excrement that is smarter than they are. It is a mystery how they can do it. It is the only significant thing they can do. Foodies are such hopeless assholes!

  • Claireparmele

    You would think packaged food would be the least of then worries, but now not only is the food unhealthy but the packing is a threat as well…

  • carol

    Soy protein is another estrogenic substance, and it is in tons of food products. Whether it is harmful and at what amount is still uncertain. Should it be banned?

  • http://www.thecookingblock.com/ Christa@thecookingblock

    Funny how one can make what they think are educated purchase and still be ignorant to others.  I stopped purchasing canned tomatoes because of the BPA lining in the cans.  I however continued to buy canned soup.  Mainly for the convenience (which is why we usually buy prepackaged food).  I never stopped to think that that canned soup usually has tomatoes and therefore the can will have BPA.   Soup is easy to make.  Just takes more planning than reaching for a can.

    I sometimes wonder when we are making our grocery purchases how often do we have to make concessions either because of financial concerns, or we just don’t know what’s in the food…but you still have to eat.  I’ve been know to stand in the grocery and just wonder what’s in my food that I don’t know about and I don’t have the time to research.

    And why can’t prepared tomatoes be packaged in glass jars like the spaghetti sauces?  I guess that’s why we should cook more, to keep as much of the garbage out of our bodies that we can.  I’ll be planting extra tomatoes this summer and will be learning how to can. 

     

  • http://www.thecookingblock.com/ Christa@thecookingblock

    Funny how one can make what they think are educated purchase and still be ignorant to others.  I stopped purchasing canned tomatoes because of the BPA lining in the cans.  I however continued to buy canned soup.  Mainly for the convenience (which is why we usually buy prepackaged food).  I never stopped to think that that canned soup usually has tomatoes and therefore the can will have BPA.   Soup is easy to make.  Just takes more planning than reaching for a can.

    I sometimes wonder when we are making our grocery purchases how often do we have to make concessions either because of financial concerns, or we just don’t know what’s in the food…but you still have to eat.  I’ve been know to stand in the grocery and just wonder what’s in my food that I don’t know about and I don’t have the time to research.

    And why can’t prepared tomatoes be packaged in glass jars like the spaghetti sauces?  I guess that’s why we should cook more, to keep as much of the garbage out of our bodies that we can.  I’ll be planting extra tomatoes this summer and will be learning how to can.