Tuesday, January 19, 2010

FDA Tells Consumers To Throw Away Scratched Plastic

In 2008, the FDA said Bisphenol A (BPA) in plastics was safe. (BPA is a synthetic estrogen.)
"In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration conducted a review of toxicology research and information on BPA, and, at that time, judged food-related materials containing BPA on the market to be safe."
- FDA: Bisphenol A (BPA) Information for Parents
A few days ago, the FDA came out with a list of ways consumers can reduce their exposure to BPA, a chemical they still consider officially to be safe, and "not proven to be harmful." Some items:
  • Discard all food containers (including baby bottles and infant feeding cups) with scratches, as they may harbor germs and may lead to greater release of BPA.
  • Do not put boiling or very hot water, infant formula, or other liquids into BPA-containing bottles.
  • There are small amounts of BPA in liquid infant formulas sold in cans. ... Do not heat cans. ... In rare cases, small amounts of BPA are found in infant formula sold in powdered form.
  • In some pacifiers, the hard plastic shield designed to prevent swallowing might contain BPA.
  • Some plastics that are marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA. ... Do not put very hot or boiling liquid that you intend to consume in plastic containers made with BPA.
The warnings are not just for infants:
  • Adults and older children should follow reasonable food preparation practices to reduce exposure to BPA.
Major manufacturers are making major changes:
  • As of January 2009, "six major US manufacturers of baby bottles and infant feeding cups ... have not manufactured these products using BPA for the US market."
If FDA considers BPA to be safe, why are they acting to reduce our exposure?
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 US 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.
These are very specific recommendations (e.g. Look on the bottom of plastics. If they say 3 or 7 and are scratched, throw them out). Why would the FDA spend a chunk of their meager time, money, and resources warning the public about something not proven to be harmful?


Anonymous said...

3s and 7s? I just bought some Rubbermaid food storage containers that are number 7! Argh!!

medicine girl said...

@Anon - Go with glass! You can get inexpensive & sturdy Pyrex or Anchor storage containers at any Walmart or Target. I also saw an amazing selection at a giant Crate & Barrel outlet today, including some Anchor containers with glass lids!

Thornbe said...

BPA is turning out to be bad. The FDA sees that but as they said in that WashPost article you linked to they don't want to create a panic. Nor do they want to be seen as negligent. They're trying to please everyone, manufacturers, the chemical industry, the public. They'll end up pleasing no one.

Glass is the way to go.

Anrosh said...

may be even steel containers - the down side is we cannot put them in the microwave if we have to heat it.

Leonard said...

Wow, all my family members have scratched up plastic! Cutting boards, tupperware, cups! ugh! ;) peace