Baby Formula Cans Lined with Bisphenol-A Raises ConcernsDec 6, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP
Baby formula is often sold in cans lined with the bisphenol-A, a chemical that has been linked to a host of health problems, says the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy and research organization, Formula makers and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) aknowledge this fact, but say the amount of bisphenol-A (BPA) in baby formula cans is not dangerous. Others feel BPA is a toxic substance that should not be used in any product intended for children.
The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit research organization focused on public health and the environment. It does not take money from special interest groups. The group previously raised concerns about the presence of BPA in plastic baby bottles and is pushing for regulation of the compound. The group says, based on its analysis of existing research on BPA, even in very small doses, BPA is harmful and may cause a host of problems, from brain and behavioral disorders to cancer, a claim the formula makers and federal regulators adamantly deny.
BPA is a fairly ubiquitous chemical used in polycarbonate plastic products, including baby bottles and metal can coatings, intended to protect the food inside from the can. According to the FDA and the infant formula industry-which adheres to federal packaging guidelines-BPA is legal and safe.
Formula maker Nestle USA says all U.S. formula companies use cans from suppliers who use BPA, stating that the FDA has found BPA to be safe and to pose no risk whatsoever to consumers. Nestle says they stand by their products in these type of cans as being safe. Mead-Johnson, the makers of Enfamil agrees saying that there are inherent risks in any material that could be considered for packaging but that babies are what they do and safety is of paramount importance. They don't feel there is a risk. Regulators say the trace amounts infants are exposed to won't hurt them. An infant would have to ingest over 7,100 times more than the current daily dietary exposure to BPA before there would be the potential for an adverse toxic effect, according to the FDA, who is actively reviewing safety data on BPA, but sees no reason to ban it or restrict its use in formula cans.
The National Toxicology Program's Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction convened an expert panel to determine if BPA is a hazard to humans, including more sensitive developing babies. The panel concluded, based on animal studies, that there's some risk as exposure to BPA causes neural and behavioral effects in children. The American Academy of Pediatrics has no formal position on BPA.
While parents don't have definitive answers, they do have choices, including powdered formula or liquid formula not packaged in cans, and BPA-free baby bottles. Another BPA-free choice for mothers who can do it is exclusive breastfeeding, considered the gold standard of infant nutrition.
The formula industry says there's no need for feeding changes for infants, as does the International Formula Council.