The Food and Drug Administration’s own advisory board accused the agency of failing to consider research on the dangers of bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical found in many plastic baby bottles, plastic food containers and metal can linings, causing the agency to finally agree to reconsider the issue. Exposure to this chemical is widespread and was seen in the urine of nearly ninety-three percent of the sample population. Although the FDA’s draft risk assessment claimed the chemical was safe, this conclusion stood out among other research that considered the chemical dangerous. For example, the National Toxicology Program, a branch of the Department of Health and Human Services, has stated the chemical can harm the brain, behavior and the prostate gland in fetuses, infants and children. Canada has also added the chemical to a list of toxic substances and said it will ban the chemical from being used in polycarbonate baby bottles. A recent study by the Journal of the American Medical Association has found adults with high levels BPA in their urine were more susceptible to heart and liver disease as well as diabetes.
The FDA’s position was based on information gathered from two large multigenerational studies by research groups that received funding from the American Plastics Council. According to the deputy director of the agency’s Office of Food Additive Safety, the FDA reviewed other studies, however, the two multigenerational were the only ones that met its guidelines for determining safety for human consumption; the other studies were said to have lacked details about how the study was administered and did not include all of the raw data, which prevent agency scientists from conducting an independent audit. However, after receiving criticism from an independent advisory panel regarding the FDA’s stance, the agency’s science board subcommittee determined the FDA was wrong to disregard the other studies. This led to the agency’s decision to reconsider its position.
Although the agency has decided to reconsider its position, many products containing bisphenol-A are still on the market, leading many people to look for alternative BPA-free products; Philips, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of baby bottles, has started to make products with and without the chemical to allow customers to choose. Beginning in 2009, the company also decided it will no longer take orders for polycarbonate bottles.