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FDA bans use of BPA in infant formula packaging

Next step: Keep the chemical out of all food and beverage containers

Published: July 2013

Thanks to action by the Food and Drug Administration last week, parents and caregivers who rely on formula to feed their babies can rest a little easier when it comes to the safety of the formula on their shelves. That's because the use of the chemical bisphenol A, or simply BPA, has been banned in infant formula packaging

The action stems from a petition by Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass.) showing that industry manufacturers had effectively stopped, or "abandoned," the use of BPA in formula packaging. 

The ban, which went in to effect July 12, was an obvious next step in tackling exposure to BPA, which has been linked to an increased risk of cancer, diabetes, and reproductive, neurological, and developmental disorders. Last year, the FDA banned its use in baby bottles in response to a consumer-driven manufacturer phase-out of the chemical. Before that, California enacted a law cosponsored by Consumers Union to ban BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups. 

Immediately following the passage of the California law, the American Chemistry Council trade association asked the FDA to phase out rules allowing BPA in such products, stating that manufacturers of bottles and sippy cups had already stopped using the chemical due to consumer preferences.

Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, was encouraged by the FDA's most recent action to limit exposure to BPA. But we think there's more that regulators and lawmakers can do to protect all consumers. As it stands now, most consumers are currently exposed to BPA daily through common products like the linings of aluminum cans, water bottles, food storage containers, eating utensils, food cans, and other plastic containers. 

That's why Consumers Union has endorsed the Ban Poisonous Additives Act of 2013 (BPA Act), also introduced by Senator Markey. The legislation would disallow the use of BPA in empty and packed food containers and require periodic reexaminations of the safety of products currently deemed safe by the FDA.

BPA exposure poses serious health concerns for consumers, especially since it's pervasive in products used by millions across the country every day. Because of these potential risks, the chemical should be banned in all food and beverage containers. 

Consumers Union will continue to work with Congress and the FDA, as we have for years, for restrictions on BPA in all food-contact substances, including children's items and the linings of cans.

This feature is part of a regular series by Consumers Union, the public-policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports. The nonprofit organization advocates for product safety, financial reform, safer food, health reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

Read other installments of our Policy & Action feature.

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