Bisphenol a (BPA): The Facts So Far


If you are at all worried about the recent news on Bisphenol A (BPA), a component in many types of plastics such as baby bottles and food cans, then many questions need to be answered.

Following a recent journal publication of the effect of BPA on animals, there have been concerns that it would affect our health. The controversy has led to the withdrawal of BPA-containing products in major retailers. Also, there is a lot of secrecy in the canning industry due to other competitors. Thus it is difficult to determine the exact composition of individual cans.

The controversy has exploded with trade companies advertising BPA-containing products as safe and harmless to health; versus various consumer groups insisting the potential risks of using these products. Even the U.S. government is split in its stance over BPA: the FDA assures that BPA is safe given it is taken at low levels, with the National Institutes of Health stressing the opposite view on child development.

Due to a lack of consensus and real evidence, some companies have stopped the production of BPA-containing products including toys and bottles. Other companies have continued with the use of BPA arguing there is insufficient evidence to take action. A ban is going to be put in place on BPA-containing products in some countries such as Canada.

Meanwhile, the media is continuing to portray growing uncertainty in public over BPA, and naturally, the consumers would play a significant role in the future of these products. A lot of people are adopting a “better safe than sorry” attitude; others have expressed cautious skepticism. With the recent scandals in China over melamine and lead paint in toys, it is unlikely that the BPA issue would be cleared up shortly.

So you might wonder what the alternatives to BPA are? There are many alternative options such as high-density polyethylene and BPA-free copolyester, as well as other non-plastic materials such as glass or aluminum. The difficulty with baby bottles and cans containing baby formula is that few other options can provide the same versatility and cost-effectiveness.

Some linings are not suitable for some food products, such as acidic contents and tomatoes. Despite all these, the market for BPA-free products would likely persist even if the health risks are eventually disproved, and suitable alternative materials would be sought.


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