WASHINGTON: The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that baby bottles and children’s drinking cups could no longer contain bisphenol A, or BPA, an estrogen-mimicking industrial chemical used in some plastic bottles and food packaging.
Manufacturers have already stopped using the chemical in baby bottles and sippy cups, and the FDA said that its decision was a response to a request by the American Chemistry Council, the chemical industry’s main trade association, that rules allowing BPA in those products be phased out, in part to boost consumer confidence.
But the ban does not apply more broadly to the use of BPA in other containers, said an FDA spokesman, Steven Immergut, who emphasized that the decision did not amount to a reversal of the agency’s position on the chemical. The FDA declared BPA safe in 2008 but began expressing concerns about possible health risks in 2010.
“Today’s action is based on industry’s abandonment of these uses of BPA,” Immergut said. “The agency continues to support the safety of BPA for use in products that hold food.”
BPA has been used since the 1960s to make hard plastic bottles, cups for toddlers and the linings of food and beverage cans, including those used to hold infant formula and soda. Until recently, it was used in baby bottles, but major manufacturers are now making bottles without it. Plastic items containing BPA are generally marked with a 7 on the bottom for recycling purposes.
The chemical can leach into food, and a study of more than 2,000 people found that more than 90 percent of them had BPA in their urine. Traces have also been found in breast milk, the blood of pregnant women and umbilical cord blood.
Canada, Chicago and Suffolk County, N.Y., have banned BPA from children’s products.