Packaging labels promising BPA-free products are hard to miss, but despite all the safety concerns surrounding bisphenol A, the chemical additive was officially deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration until now.
In a case of too little, too late, the FDA announced a ban on BPA from baby bottles and children’s drinking cups on Tuesday that lags behind manufacturer improvements and consumer expectations. The announcement came months after most manufacturers had already stopped using the industrial chemical, the New York Times reported.
For more than 50 years, the chemical has been used to make hard plastic bottles, sippy cups, the linings of food and beverage cans, but major manufacturers began producing those items without BPA because the chemical has been found to leave residue in food. In a study of more than 2,000 people who used BPA products, 90% had traces of BPA found in their urine. The chemical has also been found in breast milk, pregnant women’s blood and umbilical cord blood.
Despite the hubbub, the F.D.A. declared BPA safe in 2008, but by 2010, the F.D.A. said that it had “some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children,” the New York Times reported. Ultimately, the FDA didn’t make a move to ban the products until American Chemistry Council requested that the products be phased out.
With the exception of baby formula containers, products intended for infants and children should now be officially BPA-free, but the substance was not banned in other products. Plastic products containing BPA typically have the number 7 printed on the bottom for recycling purposes.
Follow Elise Rambaud Marrion on Twitter @emarrion_cmn.