US chemicals sector asks FDA to formally bar BPA in baby bottles

07 October 2011 20:08  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US chemical industry officials on Friday asked federal regulators to clarify for consumers that bisphenol-A (BPA) is no longer used in some infant care products by formally excluding BPA from use in those items.

In a petition to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the American Chemistry Council (ACC) asked that regulations on BPA be revised to make clear to consumers that the controversial chemical is no longer used as a component in production of such infant feeding and care items as baby bottles and sippy cups.

Steven Hentges, representing the council’s polycarbonate and BPA interests group, said FDA action was needed in order to help consumers and to stem the tide of state-level laws and rulings aimed at barring BPA from such products.

“Although governments around the world continue to support the safety of BPA in food contact materials, confusion about these products has become an unnecessary distraction to consumers, legislators and state regulators,” Hentges said.

The FDA itself had ruled in 2008 that BPA was safe for use in food-related products, but in 2010 the agency cited additional studies indicating health impacts of BPA in laboratory animals.

FDA said then that “while BPA is not proven to harm children or adults, these newer studies have led federal health officials to express some concern about the safety of BPA”.  That declaration in turn helped accelerate state-level BPA regulations.

The ACC said recent state legislative actions, such as a California law banning BPA in any food delivery products for children under three years of age, “contribute to confusion about whether baby bottles and sippy cups sold in the US contain BPA”.

Ten other states also have banned the use of BPA in infant feeding products.

Noting that child care products manufacturers announced several years ago that they would no longer use BPA in those items, the ACC said the FDA should take steps to help make consumers and state regulators aware that such products are no longer produced in the US.

In particular, the council wants the FDA to amend its food additive regulation (Section 177.1580 of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations) “to remove infant feeding bottles [‘baby bottles’] and spill-proof cups designed to help train babies to drink from cups [‘sippy cups’] from the scope of permitted food contact applications for polycarbonate resins”.

“This request is based solely on the grounds that these uses have been intentionally and permanently abandoned by all major product manufacturers,” the council’s petition said.

The requested rules amendment, said the ACC, would preclude the use of polycarbonate resins in baby bottles and sippy cups “and appropriately reflect the industry’s affirmative decision to abandon such use”.

The council noted while numerous governments have found BPA to be safe for use in human food contact products, public concern and uncertainty about BPA has led to product bans and ongoing confusion.

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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