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Better to be safe than sorry over baby bottles

21 April 2008
Better to be safe than sorry over baby bottles - Greens

The Green Party is calling for New Zealand health authorities to follow the lead of their Canadian counterparts and move to protect infants from exposure to a potentially harmful plastic used in baby bottles.

"Concern is mounting worldwide about the use of the chemical Bisphenol A in plastic food containers, baby bottles and in the plastic lining of food tins. Bisphenol A has been found to leach out of plastics and into the food. One recent US study has linked it to increased cancers in animals and it has also been linked to hormone disruption and breast cancer," Green Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

"The Canadians are working on the basis that it is better to be safe than to be sorry, but here it is a very different story. Food Standards Australia New Zealand seems to have ignored any studies that raise concerns and its stance on Bisphenol A is that is 'does not cause cancer', even though there is no scientific proof of that. On the contrary there are a number of scientific studies showing that Bisphenol A mimics the effects of oestrogen and in this way could increase the risk of breast cancer, especially in those exposed to it at a very young age.

A FSANZ fact sheet issued this month cites a literature review by the European Food Safety Authority which found that exposure levels for babies are within safe limits.

"But, simply, scientists do not know what levels are safe and what levels are not. There is no way we can be sure. Additionally, it seems that no New Zealand studies have looked into the exposure levels of babies and infants here, and there do not seem to be any plans or funding to do any such work in the future.

"Potentially, babies could be exposed through the baby bottle they drink from, from the lining of the can that their formula powder is supplied in and from the lining of any tinned baby food. However, without any research into this area we cannot know just what levels they are being exposed to.

"I cannot see why our authorities seem unwilling to invest in this research and are happy to continue to take this risk with our babies.

"FSANZ should follow the Canadian example of being safe rather than sorry, and immediately move to get manufacturers to use food and drink containers which do not contain Bisphenol A.

"In the meantime parents should be warned to avoid these products," Ms Kedgley says.


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