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FDA issues safety alert on food packaging chemical

By Sola Ogundipe
Nigerian consumers may need to take heed of warnings of possible cancer risk following an alert about the presence of Bisphenol A (BPA) – a cancer-ausing agent, in consumer products such as infant feeding bottles, food-ontact and food packaging materials amongst others, currently in circulation worldwide.

The alert, issued by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends the removal of materials containing the suspect carcinogenic agent based on concerns regarding the impact of the chemical on babies and young children.

BPA has been one of the most studied chemicals. Recent scientific research suggests that it leaches in small amounts into foods or beverages stored in polycarbonate containers, especially when the contents are acidic, high in fat or heated.

Good Health Weekly further gathered that sale of the substance which has since been banned in Britain, Canada and three American States, is commonly utilised in the manufacture of baby feeding bottles, and polycarbonate materials is currently causing little or no attention in Nigeria, as the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) of Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) are yet to issue statements on the chemical.

While several manufacturers of baby bottle brands have stopped putting it in their products, older stock containing the chemical are believed to still be in circulation for sale. Although BPA is legal in Britain and the rest of Europe infant feeding brands intend to stop selling bottles made using BPA while a few stopped utilising it since January 2010.

Reports say there were a few that admitted scheduled phase out of the chemical targeted for the end of the year. One report said: “With the exception of Canada, polycarbonate, which is made from bisphenol A is approved as a foodcontact material worldwide. The vast amount of scientific evidence still support its continued safe use.”

According to a spokesman for Mothercare: “In 2009 we introduced BPA-free alternatives to our product ranges in response to consumer feedback, and Mothercare remains committed to phasing out polycarbonate bottles containing BPA in its own brand feeding and drinking ranges.

“In addition to its own brand BPA-free ranges, Mothercare continues to offer parents the widest possible choice of products that includes a range of BPA-free products from branded manufacturers.”

BPA is known as an endocrine disruptor and interferes with the release of the female hormone oestrogen. It can affect disorders associated with metabolism , fertility and neural development. It is widely used in tins of food and canned drinks to toughen the internal lining of the container.  In December 2009, seven experts from five British universities wrote to Andy Burnham, the health secretary, calling for a review of BPA.


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