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Toxic Chemical Used to Make Baby Formula Cans Under Review

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Bisphenol-A is a toxic chemical used in the manufacturing process of baby formula cans. House Democrats are investigating whether bisphenol-A–known as BPA– poses a risk to infants. BPA is a chemical used in polycarbonate plastic products, including baby bottles and metal can coatings, intended to protect the food inside from the metal in the can. According to the FDA BPA is legal and safe.

BPA has been used to package foods for over 50 years, but consumer advocates said last year that trace amounts that leak into food could be dangerous to babies. Concerns over BPA caused Canadian retailers to remove bottled water and other plastic containers containing BPA from store shelves In December 2007. The FDA is reviewing the safety of the chemical but said last November that it “sees no reason at this time to ban or otherwise restrict its use.” In a letter to FDA, Michigan Democrats Dingell and Stupak asked commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach to explain how the agency determined BPA’s safety. “At best, the scientific community has concerns about the safety of bisphenol A,” said Stupak. “Our primary goal is to protect infants from a potentially harmful chemical.”

An expert panel of researchers assembled by the National Institutes of Health said last August that the chemical’s “impact on human health is a concern, and more research is clearly needed.” Additional research is a good idea, according to a trade group for baby formula makers, but they stressed Thursday that regulators in the U.S. and Europe believe the amounts found in food products are not dangerous. “Parents using infant formula should not be alarmed because the bisphenol used in infant formulas and other food packaging exists in trace amounts,” said Marisa Salcines, spokeswoman for the International Formula Council. “No change in infant feeding practices are necessary at this time.”