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EU bans Bisphenol A in baby bottles for health concern

06-01-2011 14:10 BJT

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A ban comes into force across Europe June 1st on the sale of all baby bottles that contain the organic compound known as BPA. Bisphenol A has been used for decades to make baby bottles and other plastic containers. Now the European Union believes it could pose a serious health risk. But as Vanessa Mock reports, the science is far from watertight.

Mother bottle feeds her baby, Baby bottles in shop.

Plastic baby bottles containing Bisphenol A, or BPA, have been on sale in Europe for over forty years.

Most consumers were not even aware of the substance until a few years ago, when some scientific research suggested they could damage a baby’s health. Since then, European consumer groups have campaigned hard for a ban.

A ban comes into force across Europe June 1st on the sale of all baby bottles that contain the organic compound known as BPA. Bisphenol A has been used for decades to make baby bottles and other plastic containers. Now the European Union believes it could pose a serious health risk. But as Vanessa Mock reports, the science is far from watertight.

Monique Goyens, Director of European Consumers’ Organization, said, 'Bisphenol A is considered to be a hormonal disrupter. That means if you are in contact with this substance even at a very low dose, you can have problems later with your hormonal system. That can mean sterility, problems as a teenager, cancer.'

Woman heats bottle, close up of bottle in microwave

The risk is thought to be highest with baby bottles because the BPA compound can be released when the bottle is washed at high temperatures and can then leak into the milk.

That’s according to some recent and highly publicised studies, which got some parents worried.

A Swedish mother said, 'Well it’s toxic, that’s what I know, and that doesn’t sound good to give my baby anything that is toxic, particularly when they are small.'

A English mother said, 'I know generally that it's not good for the health of my child but I must admit I haven’t looked into it because as time went on, most products said BPA free anyway.'

But the scientific case is not clear cut. The World Health Organisation and some national European heath regulators have said the levels of BPA are far too small to pose any significant risk.

Marc Vromman, pharmacist in Brussels, said, 'The proof is not really there. The tests have been made by industry and by other scientific research, it’s contradictory. And that’s a big problem I find.'

The ban’s been imposed by the European Commission in Brussels. It based its decision on findings by European Food Safety Agency, or EFSA, which were also inconclusive.

Frederic Vincent, Spokesman of Health Affairs of European Commission, said, 'The results of the EFSA studies said we MAY have an issue with that, and so we decided to apply the precautionary principle and we decided to ban it.'

The plastics industry has slammed the EU for over-reacting and playing on parent’s fears.

Vanessa Mock said, 'So the scientific debate continues. And the question now is whether other countries will follow the EU’s lead in imposing a ban. Or whether they’ll leave it up to consumers to decide what’s best for their babies.

Editor:Zhang Jingya |Source: CNTV.CN

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