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FDA still asleep on BPA issue

Submitted by on Monday, 3 November 2008 No Comment

Sometimes the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reminds me of Big Guy looking for his shoes in the morning.

“Where are they?” he’ll say.

“They’re right beside you.”

“But I don’t see them.”

Dude, just look.

Which is not unlike the Foot Dragging Administration’s reaction last week when a group of scientists — a group the FDA had picked, no less — took it to school on bisphenol A.

The subcommittee’s findings

  • Earlier FDA studies of BPA, a common component in plastics that make up baby bottles, sippy cups and more that has the slight drawback of being toxic, failed to look at enough samples before making assumptions about infant formula.
  • The FDA failed to consider studies showing the dangers of BPA, and it should have looked at the data.
  • Here’s the key one, so I’m going to quote: “The Margins of Safety defined by FDA as ‘adequate’ are, in fact, inadequate.”

The FDA’s response:

“Consumers should know that, based on all available evidence, the present consensus among regulatory agencies in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan is that current levels of exposure to BPA through food packaging do not pose an immediate health risk to the general population, including infants and babies.”

Of course there’s no immediate danger. No one’s ever contended that BPA is going to make people drop dead immediately. My problem is, the FDA wants to ostrich itself on the long-term dangers of the chemical.

Even the National Toxicology Program, a separate federal agency where heads appear to be above the soil line, says there are concerns about BPA’s impact on children and developing fetuses.

Ay, but the FDA has an answer for that, too.

“Parents who, as a precaution, wish to use alternatives for their bottle-fed babies can use glass and other substitutes for polycarbonate plastic bottles; avoid heating formula in polycarbonate plastic bottles; and consult their pediatrician about switching to powdered infant formula,” last week’s press release said.

Hello … tap, tap, tap. Anybody home?

I don’t know about the parents at the FDA, but I certainly didn’t prepare powdered formula one bottle at a time. I did it in bulk, reheating later. Tried it the other way, but you look for alternatives after the first few minutes of “you’re trying to starve me” shrieks as a baby waits for a bottle.

Canada’s already banned BPA in baby products, a move the FDA dismisses as being made out of “an abundance of caution.” Call me crazy, but I kind of like an abundance of caution when it comes to children’s health.

We’re not going to do that here, though the FDA promises to keep studying the issue.

“The FDA is already moving forward with planned research to address the potential low dose effects of bisphenol A, and we will carefully evaluate the findings of these studies,” the news release said.

Yes, just like you carefully evaluated other studies not funding by the plastics industry.

Forget the FDA, folks. Take matters into your own hands. The government isn’t going to be any help anytime soon on this issue.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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