16th November, 2009

Health campaigners say suspected hormone disrupter should be banned in baby bottles food and drink containers

Health campaigners have criticised the Food Standards Agency (FSA) for dismissing evidence about the impact of bisphenol-A (BPA) on human health, particularly younger children.

Bisphenol A (BPA), a plastic additive, is used in the coating applied to the insides of food cans and allows it to be heated to kill off bacteria without the metal in the can contaminating the food contents. It is used on a wide variety of food containers including baby bottles and training cups.

Its safety has again been called into question by a recent report published in the US consumer magazine Consumer Reports, which found the chemical in a wide range of canned food in the US.

The report said current guidelines in the US were outdated and did not reflect the more recent studies on the health risks from small doses of BPA.

Different standards

But the FSA said the same concerns do not apply to the UK or Europe. It said a review of the evidence in 2007 estimated the amount of BPA people consumed through their daily food intake was ‘well below tolerable levels’.

‘The European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) has said it will be looking at bisphenol-A again because of pressure from two European member states – Denmark and Belgium. We don’t know what this will entail – if another review of the evidence then there won’t be much new to consider that has come to light since 2007,’ said an FSA spokeswoman.

Low dose evidence

However, health campaigners say the FSA should look again at the evidence.

‘A significant number of studies on BPA have been published on BPA since 2007 that point to potential adverse health effects from BPA, but the FSA point about a lack of scientific evidence is disingenuous as there is over a decades worth of scientific evidence on the low dosage effects of BPA that they just ignored,’ said Clare Dimmer, the Chair of Trustees at Breast Cancer UK.

Breast Cancer UK is launching a national campaign in December calling for a ban on the use of BPA in babies bottles and for better labeling on other products.

‘We hold the view that while further studies on the impact of BPA on human health are warranted, that the available scientific evidence necessitates the Government to act on this chemical.

‘Significantly only last month, the head of the US Environmental Protection Agency announcing their review stated that, “Every few weeks, we read about new potential threats: bisphenol A (BPA) – a chemical that can affect brain development and has been linked to obesity and cancer – is in baby bottles”,’ said Dimmer.