In a move seen by advocates as too long in coming, the Food and Drug Administration banned the use of Bisphenol A, a controversial chemical, in baby bottles and sippy cups.
Most manufacturers, retailers and many states have previously removed the chemical from these products, so the federal ban may have little impact on consumer choices.
BPA, as the chemical is known, is still widely used -- in the lining of cans, in the coating on cash receipts and in many types food packaging. It's even found in the lining of many jars of baby food.
In recent years a flurry of independent research has raised questions about the safety of BPA. In animals studies, and some human studies, the chemical has been linked to health problems associated with its chemical similarity to the hormone estrogen. The so-called hormone-mimicking chemical, has been linked to diseases as various as cancer, obesity and reproductive problems.
Despite the research, and petitions from health and environmental advocates, the FDA has until now, stood closer to the chemical industry's position, and opted to keep the use of BPA unrestricted. In banning BPA's use in some children's products, the FDA responded to a petition not from advocacy groups, but from the American Chemistry Council.
Parents have led the concern about BPA, and that has led to bans on its use in children's products in 11 states. Most retailers, manufacturers of products and even some chemical manufacturers have stopped using the chemical in products designed for children.This is only a baby step in the fight to eradicate BPA. To truly protect the public, FDA needs to ban BPA from all food packaging," said Sarah Janssen, senior scientist in the public health program at Natural Resources Defense Council. "This half-hearted actiontaken only after consumers shifted away from BPA in childrens products is inadequate. FDA continues to dodge the bigger questions of BPAs safety."
The FDA is now considering a ban on BPA's use in the lining of infant formulas. That use, too, has largely already stopped due to past actions from states, manufacturers and retailers. In fact, the petition from U.S. Rep. Edward Markey, asks for the ban "because these uses have been abandoned."
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