The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday that the controversial chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, can no longer be used to make baby bottles or sippy cups. The agency said it is taking this step not because BPA is unsafe when used in these products, but because the substance simply isn’t “used” in either of them anymore. The decision came as a response to a 2011 petition from the American Chemistry Council (ACC), which argued that BPA no longer needs to be approved as a component of baby bottles or sippy cups because manufacturers have already phased the chemical out of these products. Industry’s move away from BPA was initiated after studies suggested that repeated exposure to the chemical, which has hormone-like properties, could have a negative impact on brain development, behavior and the formation of the prostate gland in fetuses, infants and young children. BPA has been shown to leach out of containers and into food. Consumer concern over these potentially harmful effects caused many companies to phase BPA out of food and beverage containers. Manufacturers says BPA is no longer used in baby bottles or sippy cups. “Although governments around the world continue to support the safety of BPA in food contact materials, confusion about whether BPA is used in baby bottles and sippy cups had become an unnecessary distraction to consumers, legislators and state regulators,” said Steven G. Hentges of the Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group of the ACC in a statement Tuesday. “FDA action on this request now provides certainty that BPA is not used to make the baby bottles and sippy cups on store shelves, either today or in the future.” Consumer advocates applauded FDA’s move, but expressed dismay at the fact that the agency isn’t banning BPA in all food packaging. “This is only a baby step in the fight to eradicate BPA,” said Sarah Janssen, senior scientist for the National Resource Defense Council’s public health program in a statement Tuesday. “To truly protect the public, FDA needs to ban BPA from all food packaging. This half-hearted action–taken only after consumers shifted away from BPA in children’s products — is inadequate. FDA continues to dodge the bigger questions of BPA’s safety.” This position was echoed by Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), who has long championed an all-out BPA ban. “I am encouraged by today’s notice, but it is long overdue, as the FDA has known for at least two years that there is concern about the effect of BPA on infants and children,” said DeLauro in a statement Tuesday. “We must do more to protect our children from this dangerous chemical and the FDA must continue to aggressively pursue further research and action on BPA to protect the public health.” FDA is also considering a petition by Senator Ed Markey to ban BPA from infant formula containers because BPA is no longer commonly part of these products either. The comment period for this petition began today. When FDA agreed to receive his petition in June, Markey said it was a step in the right direction, but that BPA should be outlawed altogether for use in food packaging. “Accepting this petition is a good start, but there are many industries that are ignoring consumer concerns and continuing to poison our food supply with this dangerous chemical. There are viable alternatives for BPA in food packaging, and I urge companies to be better corporate citizens and abandon the use of this toxic chemical. I also encourage FDA to complete and make public their long-overdue assessment of BPA’s health impacts, and make clear their next steps for ensuring our entire food supply is free from this damaging chemical.” FDA maintains that levels of BPA currently used in packaging present no threat to human health. The agency says it is important to distinguish between active BPA – the type associated with harmful hormonal effects – and its inactive form, BPA-monogluceronide. The levels of active BPA found in humans are not nearly equivalent to those that have been shown to negatively affect animals, explained the agency in its denial of a 2008 consumer group petition to prohibit BPA in all food containers. Bisphenol A is currently banned in some types of containers in 11 U.S. states, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin. Laws in Canada, the European Union, China, Malaysia, South Africa and Argentina also prohibit BPA in products intended for small children. Australia and Japan have initiated voluntary bans.

  • Oddly, BPA is banned in Europe for food product packaging. Lobbyists for the food industry would rather keep it in their packages than spend a dollar changing the formula (which I assume they do for EU export). It would be cheaper to change than to pay the lobbyist.

  • Wes

    This is a rather odd move by FDA. They are essentially informing us BPA is not used in these products…highlighting the absurdly disingenuous “concern” voiced by anti-BPA fear merchants who worked so desperately to frighten us over a non-issue. Methinks activists have too much spare time on their hands. And more money than brains, apparently. All that only leads to mischief, as we well know.

  • So it’s bad for us but we’ll leave it in everything else?
    Does anyone think that it’s fine to feed BPA-laden food to a child who has outgrown sippy cups and bottles? Some of the highest levels are found in some of the kid friendliest foods–a single bowl of Progresso soup can contain 116 times the safe daily limit, and that’s the adult guideline.

  • Jonathan

    Quick Wes — better get out there and buy up all the BPA sippy cups, food storage containers and water bottles you can find — because the manufacturers have seen the consumer writing on the wall (and not a few toxicology reports) — and with potential lawsuits stacking up BPA is simply not going to be available anymore. And better stock up on your favorite BPA-lined food and soup cans because their days are numbered as well.
    You shouldn’t be surprised other families are celebrating the power of the consumer in the marketplace, however. This toxic, hormone-disrupting chemical was never well labeled in the first place — and once identified most people certainly don’t want to dose their most vulnerable young ones with a BPA-laden sippy cups, etc….. so good riddance.
    Even FDA (now) agrees to rubber stamp these food corporation decisions — after the items are already discontinued of course so as not to ruffle the feathers of their corporate masters…

  • Joy

    Corporate Sleaze Strikes Again!!
    Guess who makes out the best on this “FDA ban” of BPA?? Answer: The members of the American Chemistry Council who have been touting its use and asserting its safety for years now. But by the manufacturers voluntarily abandoning BPA use (ONLY in infant baby bottles, sippy cups, etc) they neatly prevented any further FDA safety evaluations of BPA products — even though consumers have been pointing to definitive independent negative safety studies for years.
    According to the FDA:
    “As indicated in the filing notice (77 FR 9608 at 9609), because the petition was based on an assertion of abandonment, the Agency did not request comments on the safety of the use of PC resins in baby bottles and sippy cups. Such safety information is not relevant to abandonment and, therefore, any comments addressing the safety of PC resins were not considered in the Agency’s evaluation of this petition.”
    By withdrawing its use for babies the BPA chemical companies simultaneously cut their losses and protect its other uses in foods such as can linings in food products, soups and beer as well as sales receipt slips and other ubiquitous toxic BPA products consumers unknowingly consume and handle every day. They also use the FDA ban to stifle competition from cheap baby product imports and they duck liability issues because FDA has not rendered a decision on its safety.
    Boy — it sure is great to have the American Chemistry Council AND FDA so diligently looking out for our (rather, THEIR) interests!

  • Allen

    Surefire recipe for activist success:
    1) select a non-issue with limited or non-existent occurrence in the real world
    2) make an unholy stink about the non-issue, assault businesses with inaccurate charges of toxic ingredients in their product
    3) said businesses will point out they aren’t using said ingredient and it is non-toxic anyway
    4) FDA reviews status of said ingredient and finds, contrary to extremists charges, it is not being used…it qualifies for “abandoned” status
    5) activists cheer excitedly, pat themselves on the back and issue excited press releases congratulating themselves on successfully resolving a “problem” that never existed in the first place.
    Nifty theatrics, we all must admit. But valuable public service? Heh heh, no, not exactly…protecting us from the non-existent isn’t so special.

  • Mike

    ‘”Alan” — Try a Fact Check — non-issue? — not used ?? — inaccurate charges of toxicity? — non-existent problem? Sez who — the American Chemistry Council? But they’re the ones who recently abandoned it after all these years.
    It would be great to see your Sources

  • Audrey

    Mike, why are you so ungrateful? Allen has been shielding you from deadly space junk up to now…successfully, it would seem, would it not? Why no thanks, no congratulations, no accolades? Now we can be safe from BPA and space junk! Huzzah!!