States Ask Baby Product Companies to Avoid BPA

Officials in three states disagree with the FDA's "safe" label for BPA.

Oct. 13, 2008— -- HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Attorneys general from Connecticut, New Jersey and Delaware sent letters Friday to 11 companies that make baby bottles and baby formula containers, asking they no longer use the chemical bisphenol A in their manufacturing because they said it was potentially harmful to infants.

But Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal was most critical of the FDA for declining to take action after a preliminary study last month drew a possible connection to BPA and risks of heart disease and diabetes.

"Unfortunately the federal agency, the Federal Food and Drug Administration, has been asleep at the switch, in fact resistant to respecting the scientific evidence that grave harm can result in use of this product," Blumenthal said.

Scientists are at odds about the risks of BPA. A preliminary study released last month by the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested that adults exposed to higher amounts of the chemical were more likely to report having heart disease and diabetes. The study doesn't provide proof, although its authors said the results deserve scientific follow-up.

The FDA has tentatively concluded that BPA is safe, but gave consumers some tips on how to reduce their exposure. Consumers can avoid plastic containers imprinted with the recycling number '7,' as many of those contain BPA, and avoid warming food in such containers, the FDA said.

More than 90 percent of Americans have traces of BPA in their bodies, but the FDA says the levels of exposure are too low to pose a health risk, even for infants and children. Other scientists, however, say BPA has been shown to affect the human body even at very low levels.

The scientific debate about the chemical could last for years. In the letters, Blumenthal cites studies that indicate BPA can attach to food in heated containers. "The preventable release of a toxic chemical directly into the food we eat is unconscionable and intolerable," he wrote.

Letters were sent Friday to baby bottle manufacturers Avent America Inc., Disney First Years, Gerber, Handicraft Co., Playtex Products Inc. and Evenflo Co., and formula makers Abbott, Mead Johnson, PBM Products, Nature's One and Wyeth.

"Unfortunately the FDA has refused to do anything about it," Blumenthal said Monday. "We're asking the 11 manufacturers to do so voluntarily."

Several states are considering restricting BPA use, and some manufacturers have begun promoting BPA-free baby bottles. St. Louis-based Handicraft, maker of Dr. Brown's baby bottles, says on its Web site that its newest bottles do not contain BPA and urges consumers to check its products for symbols that identify bottles that don't contain the chemical. A message was left with the company seeking comment Monday.

Some U.S. stores, such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Toys "R" Us, have already said they're phasing out products that contain BPA. The European Union has said BPA-containing products are safe, but Canada's government has proposed banning the sale of baby bottles with BPA as a precaution.

BPA is used in lightweight, durable plastics. Products include some baby bottles, sippy cups and reusable food and drink containers, such as reusable sports water bottles, Tupperware, compact discs, DVDs, eyeglass lenses and sports safety goggles and helmets.

BPA is also in epoxy resins used to make paints, adhesives and canned food liners.

Animal studies have linked BPA with breast, prostate and reproductive system abnormalities and some cancers, but experts disagree on whether it poses health risks for humans.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-10-13-08 1331EDT