BPA Ban Debated At Public Hearing

A Wisconsin bill that would make it illegal to make or sell infant bottles or cups for children under 5 that contain bisphenol A, or BPA, was debated at a public hearing at the state Capitol Tuesday.

Many health and food officials turned out for the hearing Tuesday.

Two doctors testified that studies link BPA to a slew of developmental problems and diseases.

“(Studies have linked PBA to) prostate and breast cancer, obesity and diabetes, early puberty ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids, reduced fertility and miscarriage,” said Dr. Gail Prins, a BPA expert at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Representatives of the food packaging industry opposed the bill, citing contradictory studies. They said they worry about bans on other products.

“If you look at the regulatory science around this issue, it’s come back consistently that this particular chemical is safe in food contact,” said John Rost, of the North American Metal Packaging Association.

The BPA issue is tough for businesses and consumers alike, WISC-TV found. For people trying to avoid unhealthy food and food additives, this is a tough nut to crack, but there are some things consumers can do as the industry waits for official direction from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Even at stores that cater to the health-conscious consumer, filling the shelves these days is challenging, and so is shopping.

Thanks to a new debate over an old plastic chemical additive, consumers said deciding what’s good for them is harder than ever.

For decades, BPA has been used to package all kinds of water and food, and it is the industry standard when it comes to making the plastic liners inside lots of canned goods aimed at keeping them fresh.

Its benefits, though, are being questioned as more scientists say BPA can leach out at unsafe levels — whether the product is “organic” or not.

“It’s very disconcerting to have so much consumer confidence in a product and then find this out, that they’re using this substance (when), clearly, there’s an issue with it,” said Lynn Olson, services manager at the Willy Street Co-op.

Because BPA is currently allowed in food packaging, retailers and food packagers are in limbo, trying to follow the law and to respond to a growing public perception that BPA is unsafe.

Already, consumer demand has basically eliminated BPA from all U.S. baby bottles and sippy cup products, but other foods are another story — especially canned goods.

The Willy Street Co-op has a big book where manufacturers’ statements on BPA are contained for consumers to look up, but virtually all of the canned good companies said they use BPA because it’s the industry standard and still legal.

Nick George, of the Midwest Food Processors Association, said consumer perception that BPA is unsafe, whether it is or isn’t, is pushing the industry to search for possible alternatives.

“(The) industry is out looking right now. They’re looking for alternatives to BPA and are trying to come up with something (else),” George said.

Until then, some said there are a few healthy options.

“We’re recommending glass. In my opinion, and this is just my opinion, glass is the safer alternative. In fact, we would even recommend canning your own,” Olson said.

Canning your own food in glass bottles may not be an option for busy people, but more glass products are lining store shelves as well as other products in paper-type packaging that also keep products fresh for a long time.

The FDA is expected to issue a new ruling on BPA in food packaging products at the end of the month.