F.D.A. Concerned About Substance in Food Packaging

From The New York Times:

In a shift of position, the Food and Drug Administration is expressing concerns about possible health risks from bisphenol-A, or BPA, a widely used component of plastic bottles and food packaging that it declared safe in 2008.

The agency said Friday that it had “some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children,” and would join other federal health agencies in studying the chemical in both animals and humans.

Concerns about BPA are based on studies that have found harmful effects in animals, and on the recognition that the chemical seeps into food and baby formula, and that nearly everyone is exposed to it, starting in the womb.

But health officials said there was no proof that BPA was dangerous to humans.

Nonetheless, health officials suggested a number of things people could do to limit their exposure to BPA, like throwing away scratched or worn bottles or cups made with BPA (it can leak from the scratches), not putting very hot liquids into cups or bottles with BPA and checking the labels on containers to make sure they are microwave safe. The drug agency also recommended that mothers breastfeed their infants for at least 12 months; liquid formula contains traces of BPA.

The government will spend $30 million on BPA research in humans and animals, to take place over 18 to 24 months, health officials said at a news briefing on Friday.

Dr. Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, said the research would involve potential effects on behavior, obesity, diabetes, reproductive disorders, cancer, asthma, heart disease and effects that could be carried from one generation to the next.

Posted: 1/19/2010 11:16:00 AM

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