Group Says Infant Formula Cans Pose Health Risk
[Rachel's Introduction: Tests by both the Environmental Working Group and the Food and Drug Administration show "1 of every 16 infants fed [liquid] formula would be exposed to the [bisphenol A] at doses exceeding those that caused harm in laboratory studies," says a new report. The chemical is in every brand of liquid formula in varying amounts, it says.]
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By Russell J. Dinnage, E&ENews PM reporter
Major U.S. manufacturers of infant formula line their packages with material that contains unsafe levels of a chemical linked to reproductive problems, an advocacy group said in a report released today.

The Environmental Working Group said Nestle, Ross-Abbot, MeadJohnson and PBM admitted using the chemical, bisphenol A, as an epoxy resin to line cans of popular brands Good Start (Nestle), Similac (Ross-Abbot) and Enfamil (MeadJohnson).

And Ross-Abbot, MeadJohnson, PBM and Hain-Celestial use bisphenol A- based linings on metal portions of their powdered formula cans, the group said. Nestle did not provide the Washington-based group with information on whether the chemical is used to line packages of its powdered formula brands.

The companies provided information about their use of bisphenol A in a recent survey conducted by the environmental group. The survey asked the companies about whether they use the chemical in packaging for both liquid and powdered formula products. Among the questions: "Do you use bisphenol A in cans of liquid and powdered formula?" And "Do you test for bisphenol A in your products?"

The report advises parents who use formula to choose the powdered version because bisphenol A is more easily absorbed from the container into liquid formula. Tests by both the EWG and Food and Drug Administration show "1 of every 16 infants fed [liquid] formula would be exposed to the [bisphenol A] at doses exceeding those that caused harm in laboratory studies," the report says. The chemical is in every brand of liquid formula in varying amounts, it says.

The report also advises parents to buy formula in plastic containers because non-metal packaging contains lower levels of leachable bisphenol A. Also, parents should use formulas that require dilution because adding water reduces the amount of the chemical entering a baby's body.

Bisphenol A is used in water and food containers, shatter-resistant baby bottles and dental fillings. There is particular concern about the chemical's effect on very young children. San Francisco passed a ban on bisphenol A in toys last year over concerns about its potential to harm reproductive systems.

Scientists generally agree that bisphenol A, which is used in the manufacturing of polycarbonate plastics, can cause reproductive problems by blocking testosterone and mimicking estrogen.

But the Food and Drug Administration maintains that small doses of the chemical via food are not harmful to human health.

The EWG findings follow past group studies that found that bisphenol A is present in plastic baby bottles and that parents can best protect their infant's health by using glass bottles.

"Many parents have switched to [bisphenol A]-free bottles for their infants. They certainly should have access to [bisphenol A]-free formula as well," EWG analyst Sonya Lunder said. "U.S. manufacturers of infant formula and baby bottles can and should do the right thing and remove this harmful chemical from their products."

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