What is BPA and what has it got to do with my baby?
Bisphenol A frequently abbreviated as BPA is a chemical commonly used to manufacture many plastic products including sports gear, some water pipes, and eye lens, stationary items like DVDs and CDs, and baby bottles. Some plastic containers used to store food may also contain BPA.
What are the health risks of BPA?
Although it is not a carcinogen and is not known to be a potential cause for cancer, BPA has been recognised as a toxic substance and classified as an oestrogenic compound. A few studies seem to indicate that consumption of even low quantities BPA may have an adverse effect on the nervous and reproductive system. However most health organizations are of the opinion that low concentration of BPA is harmless because it swiftly disintegrates and is ejected out of the body through urine. The World Health Organization is currently organizing in depth analysis to ascertain the health effects of BPA.
Acceptable levels of BPA in food
Food Standards Australia and New Zealand the governmental body responsible for developing food standards for Australia and New Zealand has assessed the health risk of BPA consumed in various ways including baby bottles and have announced that levels of intake are very low and do not pose a safety risk to public health . The effects of these low concentrations of Bisphenol A are negligible and to arrive at the daily safety limit for Bisphenol A of 50 micrograms/kilogram bodyweight per day a baby would have to consume roughly fifteen to twenty times more than the average diet for infants.
FSANZ is however continuously coordinating with national and international agencies on this issue in order to evaluate latest data and asses the health risk in Australia and New Zealand.
Various health organizations around the world are of the opinion that the intake of Bisphenol A from food represents no risk to the consumer, including newborns and infants. However, in the same vein these organizations also advise consumers to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper use of BPA baby bottles and have suggested alternatives.
Some general guidelines whilst preparing your babies infant formula:
- Use of damaged or scratched bottles is not recommended as germs may accumulate.
- Avoid pouring very hot water or other liquids into bottles.
- While mixing water with infant formula, boil the water and subsequently cool it.
- Avoid using Baby bottles in the microwave – the liquid may not heat uniformly and it may harm your baby
- Always sanitize baby bottles as per the instructions on infant formula labels and cool the water to ambient temperature before mixing infant formula.
How are these chemicals regulated in Australia?
The guideline of chemicals in plastic articles for food use, including baby bottles, is the collective duty of a number of Australian Government regulatory agencies: FSANZ which is accountable for the food sold in plastic containers; The National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) assesses the risk associated with the industrial chemicals used; and the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) assesses the risk associated with the plastic articles which hold the food.
Jointly, these Government regulatory bodies analyse the overall safety findings on BPA and plasticisers.
Food Standards Australia and New Zealand controls food packaging materials via Standard 1.4.3 of the Food Standard Code, which is regarding food contact materials in broad terms, and does not spell out individual packaging materials for food contact or how they should be manufactured. Reference is made to the Australian Standard for Plastic Materials for Food Contact Use, AS 2070-1999, which presents a guide to industry about the production of plastic materials for food contact use.
Standard 1.4.1 – Contaminants and Natural Toxicants of the Food Standard Code controls the permissible levels of toxic substances that can be present in food from any source, including that resulting from contact with food packaging materials.
In the event that a public health and safety issue arose in relation to food packaging materials, including chemical constituents, FSANZ would undertake an assessment of the risk.