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California legislature fails to ban BPA

September 1, 2010

Consumers Union Disappointed by California Legislature’s Failure to Ban Bisphenol A (BPA) in Children’s Food Contact Products
CU Urges U.S. Senate to Pass Senator Feinstein’s BPA Amendment to Pending FDA Food Safety Bill

San Francisco, CA—Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, today expressed great dismay that the California Legislature failed to pass SB 797, which would have banned the sale of food contact products designed for young children, including baby bottles, sippy cups, infant formula, and baby food jars, that contain more than trace amounts of Bisphenol A (BPA). After fierce lobbying by the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, the bill was defeated late last night with a final vote of 19 – 18, just two votes short of passage. SB 797, introduced by Sen. Fran Pavley, passed the Senate in June of 2009 and the Assembly in July of 2010, but failed to pass a Senate concurrence vote that would have sent the bill to the governor’s desk. It must now be re-introduced in the next legislative session.
“Consumers Union is very disappointed that the California Legislature bent to industry and failed to take action today to protect our most vulnerable population from BPA exposure,” said Elisa Odabashian, Director, West Coast Office and State Campaigns, Consumers Union. “Given the existing and growing body of scientific knowledge about the health risks of BPA to consumers—and the growing U.S. consumer and industry movement against this chemical—California should lead by example, put public health ahead of profit, and ban BPA in children’s food contact products.”
BPA, a chemical found in the lining of cans and in many plastic products, including sports bottles, food-storage containers and baby bottles, has potential links to a wide range of health effects, including an increased risk of diseases or disorders of the brain and reproductive, and immune systems. Recent studies have linked BPA exposure to problems with liver function, an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease, and interruptions in chemotherapy treatment. Furthermore, BPA exposure has long been linked to hormonal disturbances. A study by the Centers for Disease Control has shown that 93 percent of Americans excrete some BPA in their urine, suggesting that exposure to BPA is likely widespread and ongoing.
Consumers Union has repeatedly called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban BPA materials from food and beverage contact containers and, at the very least, to take immediate steps to protect infants and children. But the FDA has so far not taken action to eliminate exposure to the dangers of BPA. The safety standard used for BPA exposure is more than 20 years old and has been criticized for being based on only a few animal studies that lacked proper positive controls and were all sponsored by the BPA industry. Since the standard was established, hundreds of studies have been published in the scientific literature that show potential health effects, especially reproductive effects, at much lower doses.
“There is ample scientific evidence to ban BPA in all products that come into contact with foods and beverages, and we thank Senator Pavley for shepherding the effort to protect infants and small children who are most at risk for developmental problems from exposure to BPA,” said Odabashian.
Connecticut, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin have passed bans on BPA in food and drink containers intended for children younger than three years of age. Chicago and several counties in New York have taken similar action. Bills are also pending in Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. Canada became the first country to ban BPA use in baby bottles in 2008. Denmark, France, and Australia have taken measures to ban BPA.
California Senator Dianne Feinstein has announced plans to offer an amendment to a pending FDA food safety bill that would ban BPA from baby bottles, sippy cups, infant formula packaging, and baby food. Consumers Union supports the Senator’s amendment, which, if passed, would protect infants and young children across the country from the dangers of BPA exposure.
In its December 2009 issue, Consumer Reports tested canned foods, including soups, juice, tuna, and green beans and found that almost all of the 19 name-brand foods contained measurable levels of BPA. The findings are noteworthy because they indicate how widespread and, in some cases, significant, exposure to the chemical is. For more information, please visit Consumer Reports’ website, www.greenerchoices.org/bpa.
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Elisa Odabashian, 415.431.6747
Naomi Starkman, 917.539.3924