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.
- Use a BPA-free reusable water bottle, such as an unlined stainless steel bottle.