18th January 2010
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and US Department for Health and Human Services (HHS) in coordinated announcements have judged that “newer studies have led federal health officials to express some concern about the safety of BPA”.
The HHS has also stated that “Concern over potential harm from BPA is highest for young children, because their bodies are early in development and have immature systems for detoxifying chemicals”, while the FDA is acting on these concerns by “supporting the industry’s actions to stop producing BPA-containing baby bottles and infant feeding cups for the U.S. market”.
In a extraordinary response to a letter from a group of influential UK scientists, from the University of Stirling, Ulster University, University of London, University of Plymouth, and Reading University, in December 2009 that urged the Government to ‘adopt a standpoint consistent with the approach taken by other Governments who have ended the use of BPA in food contact products marketed at children’ the UK Food Standards Agency provided a five paragraph response that dismisses these concerns and in sharp contrast to the views of health authorities in the US and Canada reaffirms their view that “exposure of UK consumers to BPA from all sources, including food contact materials, was well below levels considered harmful”.
“The response from the Food Standards Agency to our letter is extremely disappointing” said Professor Vyvyan Howard, of the Biomedical Sciences Research Institute at Ulster University, and signatory to the December 2009 letter to the Department of Health.
He continued “the FSA’s failure to acknowledge the hundreds of scientific peer-reviewed studies that have demonstrated that BPA is likely to impact on public health, particularly on very young children who continue to be exposed by the use of this chemical in baby bottles, now stands in sharp contrast with health authorities in the US that are taking a dramatically different response.”
“While authorities in North America are taking action to reduce young children’s exposure to BPA, the UK Food Standards Agency is failing to meet its responsibilities to parents,” said Prof. Andrew Watterson, Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group, University of Stirling, and a signatory to the scientists’ letter.
He continued “deferring to EU review of the American Chemistry Council backed study is not a sufficient response to the concerns that we as scientists raised with the Government, concerns that are backed by hundreds of independent studies that have time after time highlighted significant public health impact around exposure to BPA”.
Clare Dimmer, the Chair of Trustees at Breast Cancer UK said:
“It is no wonder that the public have little trust in the FSA when it comes to BPA, with only one in ten people believing that the Government should follow the current FSA guidelines and leave things as they are.
While the FSA may choose to ignore public opinion it is not acceptable that they choose to dismiss the countless independent peer-reviewed scientific studies that have consistently demonstrated that action needs to be taken to protect children’s health now. Relying mainly on studies backed with money from the chemicals industry is an approach that will not inspire confidence with either scientists or parents.”
A YouGov Survey conducted between the 23rd and 25th of November 2009 showed that only 10% of the UK public think that the Government “should follow the current FSA guidelines and leave things as they are”, while 61% think that the Government “should act to end the use of BPA in baby bottles”.
The same opinion poll found that just under four out of five (79%) of the public either strongly agree (50%) or agree (29%) ‘that it is important that the UK Government acts in a precautionary way when it comes to protecting babies and very young children from BPA’.
In December 2009, Breast Cancer UK launched the No More BPA campaign, that calls on the Government to introduce regulations to end the use of controversial chemical BPA, in food contact products marketed at young children in general, and in babies bottles in particular.
This call is backed by NCT (formerly National Childbirth Trust), UNISON, The Women’s Environmental Network, the Cancer Prevention and Education Society and CHEM Trust.