Originally published July 1 2008
Infant Formula Cans Lined With Toxic Chemical BPA
by David Gutierrez, staff writer
(NaturalNews) An investigation by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has found that nearly all infant formulas are packaged in containers that contain the dangerous toxin bisphenol A.
The EWG surveyed the top five manufacturers of baby formulas sold in the United States about the packaging of their containers. All five, including the makers of Nestle, Similac, Enfamil and PBM formulas, acknowledged the use of bisphenol A in the lining of metal liquid formula containers. Among makers of powdered formulas, four of the five top manufacturers also admitted to using bisphenol A to line metal portions of containers.
Nestle denied using bisphenol A in the containers of powdered formula, but the EWG notes that the company "failed to provide EWG with reliable documentation of their alternative packaging, and thus is not a clear improvement over other types."
In addition, the EWG expressed reservations over endorsing Nestle products due to the company's history of unethical infant formula marketing practices in Third World countries.
Bisphenol A is widely used to make plastics hard and translucent and to line metal cans. It is known to disrupt the hormonal system of vertebrates, causing reproductive and developmental defects, including brain damage and neurobehavioral problems. It is considered particularly dangerous to developing animals, such as humans exposed during fetal development or in early childhood.
Recent studies have also shown that bisphenol A exposure during development can lead to cancer later in life, and that it may be linked to obesity.
Two separate National Institutes of Health panels have expressed concern over the chemical. A panel of 38 bisphenol A experts recently concluded that average levels of the chemical in humans are higher than those that have been known to cause harm in animal experiments.
Recent publicity about the presence of bisphenol A has caused an increase in the popularity of glass baby bottles, but the EWG warns that the liquid formula itself is probably more dangerous.
"Testing by EWG and by the FDA indicates that under normal use, liquid formula itself could expose an infant to substantially more BPA than a plastic bottle," the organization said.
According to EWG calculations, one in every 16 liquid-formula-fed children is exposed to higher doses of bisphenol A than have been shown to cause harm in laboratory studies. In contrast, powdered formula exposes children to anywhere from 8 to 20 times less of the chemical.
Because any exposure is considered dangerous, the EWG emphasized that breast feeding is the most healthy choice.
"Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for babies," the group said. "It contains essential fatty acids that help bolster babies' bodies against the impacts of toxic chemicals."
"However, there are many reasons why families rely on formula for some or all of their baby's diet," the group added. For this reason, "formula should be manufactured in a way that avoids contamination with harmful chemicals."
For parents who must feed their children from formula, the EWG recommends a few steps to reduce bisphenol A exposure. In addition to choosing powdered formula, parents can select the brands that are packaged with the least metal.
"Powdered formula sold by Enfamil and Similac are reduced-risk choices, because only the metal tops and bottoms of their packages – not the cardboard sides – are metal and lined with BPA-based plastic," the organization said.
Ironically, Earth's Best Organic is sold in an entirely metal can, and the whole surface is lined with bisphenol A.
For those who must use liquid formulas, EWG recommends formulas sold in plastic containers. Among liquid formulas sold in metal containers, the ready-to-eat are the most dangerous. In contrast, formulas that must be diluted with water will supply a lower dose of bisphenol A.
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