FDA to Investigate Potential Risk of BPA Exposure

Following on the heels of studies supporting connections between bisphenol A and adverse health effects, the FDA has expressed increased concern over the chemical commonly found in plastic bottles and food packaging.

The FDA announced in January that it could reverse its former position on bisphenol A (BPA), which it previously deemed safe.

According to a transcript of the agency’s recent stakeholder conference, newer studies conducted by the National Toxicology Program have revealed “subtle effects” of exposure to small quantities of BPA in animals, causing health officials to reconsider the chemical’s impact on humans.

The agency is primarily concerned with the presence of BPA in plastic baby bottles, sippy cups, and the linings of metal cans used to package infant formula. According to the report, trace amounts of BPA have been found in food and liquids contained inside these products. At present, there is no firm proof that BPA is harmful to humans; however, should BPA prove to negatively impact development, children and infants might be at greater risk due to increased exposure.

To further investigate the risk, the FDA has invested $30 million in BPA research in humans and animals, which will be conducted by the National Institutes of Health and the National Toxicology Program over the next 18 to 24 months.

In the meantime, agency representatives say the FDA will be taking “reasonable steps” to reduce BPA exposure. It has already begun working with manufacturers to stop the production of bottles, feeding cups, and food can liners made with BPA, and plans are in place to tighten industry regulations as studies produce new scientific evidence.

Until research is more conclusive, the agency advises parents to do what they can to minimize their children’s exposure to BPA. Guidelines issued by the Department of Health & Human Services say mothers should breastfeed for at least 12 months, if possible. Parents should also discard scratched or worn feeding containers, avoid pouring hot liquids into BPA-containing bottles, and check all food containers for safety labels before microwaving or washing in a dishwasher. For more information, visit http://www.hhs.gov/safety/bpa/.