By Ylan Q. Mui
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 18, 2008
Wal-Mart will stop selling baby bottles made with the controversial chemical bisphenol A in its U.S. stores early next year, a spokesman said yesterday.
The world's largest retailer had announced Wednesday that it was immediately halting sales of baby bottles, sippy cups, pacifiers, food containers and water bottles made with BPA in its Canadian stores amid speculation that the country's health department would soon declare the chemical unsafe.
The moves follow Monday's release of a draft report from the U.S. National Toxicology Program that expressed concern that BPA, which is used to make plastic, could cause behavioral changes in infants and children and trigger the early onset of puberty in females. The report also said more study should be done.
"Major retailers can be a force in effecting positive change," said Mike Schade of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, an environmental advocacy group, which has lobbied against the use of BPA. "Parents shouldn't have to roll the dice with their children's health at the checkout aisle."
Wal-Mart has sold BPA-free baby bottles for several years alongside bottles with the chemical. But yesterday was the first time the retailer indicated it would convert its entire U.S. stock.
"We are working hard to expand our BPA-free offerings," Wal-Mart spokesman Nick Agarwal wrote in an e-mail.
Spurred by customer demand, other retailers are also stocking products made without the chemical. A spokeswoman for Target said the chain began testing glass baby bottles in its stores in January and offering them online in February. Babies R Us said its sales of glass bottles have increased fivefold since last spring. It began selling the popular BornFree glass and BPA-free bottles in stores in November.
The American Chemistry Council, an industry group, said yesterday that recent media reports are "unnecessarily confusing and frightening the public." It said the Food and Drug Administration recognizes plastics made with BPA as safe and asked the FDA to update its review to better inform consumers.