First it was in plastic baby bottles. Now, it’s in the baby formula itself.
New research from a U.S. environmental group reveals the potentially carcinogenic chemical bisphenol A is in the lining of most cans of liquid baby formula and often leaches into the liquid at what they say are dangerous levels for babies.
“Because they eat so much relative to their small size, their exposure is intense,” said Sonya Lunder, lead researcher on bisphenol A for the Environmental Working Group, a research agency based in Washington. “We can’t use endocrine-disrupting chemicals in a baby’s first food. The formula companies need to take action.”
The major formula companies in North America responded that their products are safe and parents should not be concerned.
“We don’t see any problem with BPA and it being unsafe,” said Marisa Salcines of the International Formula Council, whose members include Nestlé and Abbott Nutrition, the makers of Similac.
Ontario Environment Minister John Gerretsen said the provincial government’s study into toxic chemicals will start with bisphenol A, and include baby formula cans in its research, as well as the hundreds of other hard plastic products – including baby bottles – that contain bisphenol A. The panel, announced last month, will advise the government on whether to reduce potentially toxic chemicals, from both industrial emissions and consumer products.
Health Canada is also studying the potential risks of bisphenol A and is due to report in May.
While the U.S. Federal Drug Administration says the chemical is safe for humans, more than 100 independent studies have shown small doses of bisphenol A can cause developmental problems, cancer, obesity, and early puberty.
Parents should avoid liquid baby formula – using powder instead – until companies start to line their cans with bisphenol-free resin, Lunder said.
“Parents spend thousands of dollars on formula and they need to know it’s safe,” she said.
“Breastfeeding is the safest option,” said Aaron Freeman, policy director with Environmental Defence – a Toronto-based group that found 39 chemicals contaminating children it tested in its “Toxic Nation” study, including bisphenol A.