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RELEASE DATE: June 21, 2012
STATEMENT - Maine Should Require Safer Alternatives to BPA in Food Packaging
Statement of Michael Belliveau, Environmental Health Strategy Center, 21 June 2012
Maine Should Require Safer Alternatives to BPA in Food Packaging
Baby Food Makers Violate Maine’s BPA Rule; Fail to Document Safety to Metal Lids
We applaud Maine moms, physicians and health advocates for petitioning the Board of Environmental Protection today to eliminate the toxic chemical bisphenol A (BPA) from our food supply. Since safer alternatives to BPA are widely available for the packaging of infant formula, baby food and toddler food, they should be required. Under Maine’s Kid Safe Products Act, the State can prohibit the sale of food packaging containing BPA when intended for children under three years old.
Hundreds of scientific studies have shown that BPA wreaks hormone havoc. Food packaging remains a major source of exposure to BPA, which migrates into food from the epoxy coatings on steel cans and the metal lids of glass jars. According to federal scientists, the BPA levels that babies are routinely exposed to risk brain damage, behavioral problems, and prostate cancer, among other health threats.
Safer alternatives to BPA in food packaging are widely available, including several BPA-free plastic containers, the Tetra Pak aseptic carton, and laminated pouches from Cheer Pack. Fresh or frozen food is also a safer alternative to canned foods.
The market has just begun to move away from BPA, so it’s a perfect time for public policy action to force the laggards to move and to ensure the safety of all alternatives. BPA is still widely used in canned foods intentionally marketed to toddlers, and in jars of Wild Harvest baby food sold at Shaw’s supermarket.
‘BPA-free’ is not enough to protect the health of our children. Because our federal chemical safety system is so badly broken, Dow Chemical and other chemical manufacturers are allowed to market other toxic chemicals as BPA replacements.
The big three baby food brands, Gerber, Beech-Nut and Earth’s Best, are violating Maine law, which requires showing that their new BPA-free coatings for jar lids are safer than BPA-based epoxy. Last week on June 14th, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued Notices of Violation to these three companies for their failure to ensure the safety of their new metal packaging.
We applaud the Maine DEP for taking diligent enforcement against these scofflaws. The agency should now support the proposed citizen-initiated rulemaking to phase out BPA in all food packaging for young children in favor or truly safer alternatives.