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There is much debate currently regarding plastics and whether they are safe to heat food and liquids in or to use as storage for food. In particular is the issue of Bisphenol A (BPA) and whether ingesting it through leaching when heating plastic containers.

Some countries like Canada have taken the step to completely ban BPA in all plastics, along with some European countries and several US states. Research is still being undertaken to determine what, if any side effects there are of BPA exposure, and in particular to newborns and infants. Concerns have been raised and 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. Investigations are underway to clarify uncertainties about the risks of BPA.

LUNCHBOXMANIA has provided the latest recommendations from the US Food and Drug Agency (FDA) below.

US Food and Drug Agency

Bisphenol A (BPA) is an industrial chemical used to make a hard, clear plastic known as polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is used in a vast range of consumer products including reusable water bottles and baby bottles. BPA may also be found in very small amounts in epoxy resins, which act as a protective lining on the inside of metal-based food and beverage cans which has been used since the 1960’s.

Overview

Studies employing standardized toxicity tests have thus far supported the safety of current low levels of human exposure to BPA.  However, 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.  In cooperation with the National Toxicology Program, FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research is carrying out in-depth studies to answer key questions and clarify uncertainties about the risks of BPA.

In the interim:

  • FDA is taking reasonable steps to reduce human exposure to BPA in the food supply.  These steps include:
    • supporting the industry’s actions to stop producing BPA-containing baby bottles and infant feeding cups for the U.S. market;
    • facilitating the development of alternatives to BPA for the linings of infant formula cans; and
    • supporting efforts to replace BPA or minimize BPA levels in other food can linings.
  • FDA is supporting a shift to a more robust regulatory framework for oversight of BPA.
  • FDA is seeking further public comment and external input on the science surrounding BPA.

FDA is also supporting recommendations from the Department of Health and Human Services for infant feeding and food preparation to reduce exposure to BPA.

FDA is not recommending that families change the use of infant formula or foods, as the benefit of a stable source of good nutrition outweighs the potential risk from BPA exposure.

Read the full January 2010 update9 (PDF10)

Interim Public Health Recommendations

At this interim stage, FDA supports reasonable steps to reduce exposure of infants to BPA in the food supply.  In addition, FDA will work with industry to support and evaluate manufacturing practices and alternative substances that could reduce exposure to other populations.

Given that these are preliminary steps being taken as a precaution, it is important that no harmful changes be made in food packaging or consumption, whether by industry or consumers, that could jeopardize either food safety or reduce access to and intake of food needed to provide good nutrition, particularly for infants.

Infants.  Infants are a potentially sensitive population for BPA because (1) their neurological and endocrine systems are developing; and (2) their hepatic system for detoxification and elimination of such substances as BPA is immature.

  • FDA is supporting the industry’s actions to stop producing BPA-containing bottles and infant feeding cups for the U.S. market. FDA understands that over the past year, the major manufacturers of these products have stopped selling new BPA-containing bottles and infant feeding cups for the U.S. market. Glass and polypropylene bottles and plastic disposable “bag” liners have long been alternatives to polycarbonate nursing bottles.

FDA is facilitating the development of alternatives to BPA for the linings of infant formula cans. FDA has already noted increased interest on the part of infant formula manufacturers to explore alternatives to BPA-containing can linings, and has received notifications for alternative packaging.  The agency is supporting efforts to develop and use alternatives by (1) working with manufacturers regarding the regulatory status and safety of alternative liners; (2) giving technical assistance to those wishing to prepare applications for approval of alternatives; and (3) expeditiously reviewing any such new applications for alternatives. Because reliable can lining materials are a critical factor in ensuring the quality of heat processed liquid infant formula, safe replacement of such materials requires not only that they both be safe for food contact but also allow for processing that is fully functional in protecting the safety and quality of the infant formula itself.


NOTE – The above information has been provided directly from the US Food and Drug Administration www.fda.gov