The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday banned the use of the chemical bisphenol A in baby bottles and sippy cups and started to review a Massachusetts congressman’s request to stop the chemical’s use in infant formula packaging.
The ban came at the request of the American Chemistry Council. The chemical industry trade group said consumer preferences had long ago forced manufacturers to abandon BPA’s use in baby bottles and sippy cups in the United States. But the group said it asked for an official ban to clear up “consumer confusion” about the chemical’s use in those products.
A growing body of research suggests that exposure to this chemical could contribute to cancer, sexual dysfunction, behavioral problems in children and heart disease. But the industry and the federal government have long maintained that BPA is safe in low doses.
The FDA did not address the safety issue in this case because the industry based its request solely on a provision that allows anyone to petition for changes to food additive rules if they can demonstrate that a particular use of the additive has been abandoned.
Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has used that provision to petition for a ban on BPA in a variety of food packages. On Tuesday, the FDA started collecting public comment on one of those requests, which specifically called for a BPA ban in infant formula packaging.
BPA is used to make plastics shatter-proof. It’s also used in the epoxy linings of metal cans to keep food fresh.