FDA Petitioned to Ban Bisphenol A In Baby Bottles, Children's ‘Sippy Cups'

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By Pat Rizzuto

The Food and Drug Administration has been petitioned to ban bisphenol A in baby bottles and sippy cups, and a spokesman said the agency will soon publish a notice seeking comment on the petition from chemical manufacturers.

FDA spokesman Stephen King told BNA Oct. 7 the agency will publish a notice on the petition by the American Chemistry Council in the “very near future.”

Despite scientific data and governmental assessments that have found bisphenol A safe, U.S. manufacturers stopped making infant baby bottles and spill-proof cups with the plastic-hardening chemical about two or three years ago to satisfy market demand, Steven G. Hentges, of the American Chemistry Council's Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group, told reporters during an Oct. 7 briefing on the petition.

Nonetheless, there has been “quite a bit of legislative activity around a product that doesn't exist,” Hentges said.

“Confusion about these products has become an unnecessary distraction to consumers, legislators and state regulators,” he said.

Hentges mentioned legislation passed in 11 states that prohibits the use of bisphenol A-containing polycarbonate resins in baby bottles and “sippy cups.” California became the most recent state to ban that use of the chemical when Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed A.B. 1319 into law Oct. 4 (194 DEN A-7, 10/6/11).

The council petitioned FDA on Sept. 19 to amend its food contact regulation (21 C.F.R. Part 177.1580) to exclude the use of bisphenol A in “infant feeding bottles and spill-proof cups designed to help train babies to drink from cups.”

In a letter to the chemistry council Oct. 6, FDA acknowledged its receipt of that petition and told the council it would issue the Federal Register notice, Hentges told BNA.

“FDA action on this request will provide certainty that BPA is not used to make the baby bottles and sippy cups on store shelves, either today or in the future,” Hentges said in a statement about the council's petition.

FDA's King said FDA has not made a decision on the petition but that if the agency amends its regulation, any products remaining in the marketplace would no longer be lawful.

Hentges said revising the rule should provide consumers with clarity and prevent legislators from spending their time and effort to pass laws that have “no impact at all,” because the products are no longer on the U.S. market.

“Products would not be allowed to be imported into the country if they contained BPA,” King said. He did not offer details on how compliance would be enforced.

‘Stunning Reversal.’

The Environmental Working Group backed the California law banning BPA.

Ken Cook, the group's president and co-founder, called the chemistry council's petition a “stunning reversal.”

“The chemical industry spent millions this year fighting efforts in California and other states to ban BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups,” Cook said.

EWG pledged to continue its campaign against the chemical, which it described as a synthetic estrogen “linked to a long list of serious medical conditions.”

“The industry should drop any further objections to phasing out BPA in baby formula containers and other canned food,” EWG said in a prepared statement.

Hentges said the council will continue to support BPA's use in many other products, including food containers, because of its safety record.

BPA is used primarily to make polycarbonate plastic for use in electronics, automobiles, CDs and DVDs, and food and drink containers. It also is used to make epoxy resins, which have applications in electrical laminates for printed circuit boards, paints and adhesives, and a variety of protective coatings, according to the chemistry council's Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group.

The American Chemistry Council's petition is available at http://op.bna.com/env.nsf/id/smiy-8meqbe/$File/FDAPetition.pdf.