HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Friday, October 17, 2008

States Ask Baby Product Companies to Avoid BPA

The Washington Post reports that attorneys general from Connecticut, New Jersey and Delaware sent letters Friday to eleven companies that make baby bottles and baby formula containers, asking that they no longer use the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in their manufacturing despite the FDA's tentative conclusion that BPA is safe.  Larry Smith writes,

Baby_bottleThe Food & Drug Administration has tentatively concluded that BPA is safe based on a review of research, and some manufacturers have already said they would make BPA-free baby bottles.

But Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal criticized the FDA for declining to take action after a preliminary study last month drew a possible connection to BPA and risks of heart disease and diabetes.

"Unfortunately the federal agency, the Federal Food and Drug Administration, has been asleep at the switch, in fact resistant to respecting the scientific evidence that grave harm can result in use of this product," Blumenthal said.

Scientists are at odds about the risks of BPA. A preliminary study released last month by the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested that adults exposed to higher amounts of the chemical were more likely to report having heart disease and diabetes. The study doesn't provide proof, although its authors said the results deserve scientific follow-up.

Michael Herndon, an FDA spokesman, said Monday that the agency is continuing to evaluate its risk assessment.

More than 90 percent of Americans have traces of BPA in their bodies, but the FDA says the levels of exposure are too low to pose a health risk, even for infants and children. Other scientists, however, say BPA has been shown to affect the human body even at low levels.

The scientific debate about the chemical could last for years.

In the letters, Blumenthal cites studies that indicate BPA can attach to food in heated containers. "The preventable release of a toxic chemical directly into the food we eat is unconscionable and intolerable," he wrote.

Letters were sent Friday to baby bottle manufacturers Avent America Inc., Disney First Years, Gerber, Handicraft Co., Playtex Products Inc. and Evenflo Co., and formula makers Abbott, Mead Johnson, PBM Products, Nature's One and Wyeth.

"Unfortunately the FDA has refused to do anything about it," Blumenthal said Monday. "We're asking the 11 manufacturers to do so voluntarily."

Jay Highman, president and CEO of Nature's One, who said his company doesn't sell its products in containers that have the chemical, hadn't received the letter by Monday.

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