BPA: Reducing Your Exposure
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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is informing consumers of reasonable steps they can take to reduce exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) while more is being learned about the safety of this chemical.
BPA has been used for more than 40 years in manufacturing many hard plastic food containers, including baby bottles and reusable cups. It has also been used in making the lining of metal food and beverage cans, including cans for liquid infant formula.
FDA believes that recent animal studies provide reasons for some concern about the potential effects of BPA on infants and children.
Previous tests on laboratory animals have supported the safety of current low levels of human exposure to BPA. However, results from recent studies using new ways to test have shown slight effects on the development and behavior of animals from low amounts of BPA. Scientists do not know for certain if these effects in animals correspond to harmful effects in people.
To learn more, FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are supporting additional studies. FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research is collaborating with NIH on some of these studies.
While scientists are gathering more data, FDA supports the following Department of Health and Human Services’ recommendations for families and parents to minimize exposure to BPA.
1. Follow recommended guidelines to feed your baby
- FDA supports the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations for infant feeding and supports breastfeeding for at least 12 months whenever possible because breast milk is the optimal source of nutrition for infants.
- If you choose not to breastfeed, iron-fortified infant formula is the safest and most nutritious alternative. The benefit of good nutrition from infant formula and food outweighs the potential risk of BPA exposure.
- Discuss any significant changes to your baby’s diet with your baby’s doctor or nurse.
2. Discard baby bottles, infant feeding cups, and other food containers that are scratched
- Worn baby bottles, cups, and other containers are likely to have scratches that harbor germs and, if they contain BPA, may release small amounts of the chemical.
3. Temperature matters
- Do not put boiling or very hot water, infant formula, or other liquids into BPA-containing bottles while preparing them for your child. Traces of BPA are transferred when hot or boiling liquids or foods come in contact with containers made with BPA.
- Before mixing water with powdered infant formula, boil the water in a BPA-free container and allow to cool to lukewarm.
- Ready-to-feed liquid formula can be served at room temperature or gently warmed up by running warm water over the outside of the bottle.
- Do not heat baby bottles of any kind in the microwave—the liquid may heat unevenly and burn your infant.
- Sterilize and clean bottles according to instructions on infant formula labels. Bottles should be left to cool to room temperature before adding infant formula.
4. Check the labels on your bottles and food preparation containers
- Only use containers marked “dishwasher safe” in the dishwasher and only use “microwave safe” marked containers in the microwave.
- Plastic containers have recycle codes on the bottom. In general, plastics that are marked with recycle codes 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 are very unlikely to contain BPA. Some, but not all, plastics that are marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.
FDA is supporting industry actions to stop producing BPA-containing baby bottles and infant feeding cups. Over the past year, the major manufacturers of these products, representing more than 90 percent of the U.S. market, have stopped selling new BPA-containing bottles and infant feeding cups for the nation’s market.
Other steps FDA is taking to reduce human exposure to BPA in the food supply include
- helping manufacturers develop alternatives to BPA for the linings of infant formula cans
- supporting efforts to replace BPA or minimize BPA levels in other food can linings
- supporting a shift to a regulatory structure that gives FDA more oversight and flexibility in regulating food additives, including BPA
- seeking public comment on the science surrounding BPA
- continuing to consult with other expert federal agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, Consumer Product Safety Commission, CDC, and NIH
- continuing to consult with international regulatory and public health counterparts, such as Health Canada and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, which have also been studying the safety of BPA
This article appears on FDA's Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.
Date Posted: January 20, 2010