Well it took a bit of time, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has formally announced a ban of BPA (Bisphenol A) in all sippy cups and baby bottles sold in the United States. This comes, not exactly hot on the heels, but years after most manufacturers of said products “voluntarily” removed BPA from their products after much public concern and outcry.
To back up a bit, BPA is an estrogen-mimicking industrial chemical commonly used in some plastic bottles and food packaging. While BPA has been widely used in a number of products since the 1960s, like canned foods and plastics, because it makes such plastics hard and difficult to break, it wasn’t until fairly recently that health concerns began to arise around ingesting small amounts of the chemical over time – especially for children. The problem is that BPA tends to leech into food and drink, which ultimately finds a home in our bodies. A build up of BPA in our bloodstream is thought to have a deleterious effect on overall health and hormone stability and may be carcinogenic, but the jury is still out on this one. Since 2008 the FDA has claimed that small levels of BPA in the bloodstream are safe and not a cause for concern. So why are they banning it?
Well the answer is simple – pressure from plastics manufacturers. Yes, it seems that the good name of the plastics industry has been besmirched and tarnished by this whole BPA thing, and while nearly all manufacturers have stopped using BPA in their sippy cups and baby bottles, the industry wants the FDA to come down hard with a ban as to assure consumers that all is well and do away with any confusion about the inclusion of BPA is such products. Essentially, the FDA is providing some much needed rebranding for our friends in the plastics industry. According to a NPR report, the American Chemistry Council asked for the ban back in 2011 as a way to reassure consumers that they had nothing to fear from plastic baby products.
But to be sure, BPA still resides in much of the food supply, just not the baby-centric food supply. If you buy canned foods, you are likely getting a bit of BPA in every bite.
What are your thoughts on this FDA ban? Does it serve the public or serve the plastics industry? Do you take steps to avoid BPA in your own, and your family’s, diet?