Germany backs bisphenol A in baby bottles

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Bisphenol a

Germany’s risk watchdog has become the latest official body to declare that bisphenol A (BPA) is safe for “normal” use in baby bottles and should not be banned.

The BfR, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, said it arrived at its conclusions after a review of the available scientific studies on the issue.

“Following careful examination of all studies, in particular the studies in the low dose range of bisphenol A, BfR comes to the conclusion in its scientific assessment that the normal use of polycarbonate bottles does not lead to a health risk from bisphenol A for infants and small children,”​ said the body in a statement.

Polycarbonate bottles safe

The tolerable daily intake (TDI) – the amount a person can ingest daily over the course of their lifetime - for BPA in Europe is 0.05mg/kg bodyweight. This included a safety factor of 100, said the group. Official spot checks carried out on polycarbonate baby bottles did not detect any BPA in the contents of the containers heated under normal domestic conditions, said a BfR report.

It added: “Hence there is no health risk for babies fed from bottles made of polycarbonate. BfR therefore believes that there is no need to forego using polycarbonate bottles.”

Health risks dismissed

The BfR also dismissed concerns linking the chemical to cancer, saying “there are no indications of any carcinogenic effect” ​and characterised the substance as having “low acute toxicity”.

BPA is a chemical widely used in polycarbonate plastic baby bottles, sippy cups and the linings of some food cans. Concern consumers and politicians, particularly in the United States, over the continued use of the chemical centre on studies that show it leaches from packaging into foodstuffs. This has led to the banning of BPA for use in baby containers in a number of US states. However, concern in Europe appears less intense at present although in July, French senators tabled a bill to ban the chemical and the Danish Parliament has urged its government to evaluate BPA’s safety.

Contradictory studies

The German body also appeared to reject concerns that BPA can remain in the human body and produce adverse effects by mimicking the female hormone oestrogen. Opponents of the chemical have said this can cause the onset of early puberty. BfR acknowledged BPA was an endocrine disruptor but said humans were able rapidly convert the chemical into a “metabolite that no longer has any oestrogenic activity and is eliminated via the kidneys”.

It said this constituted a “major difference to rodents”​ which get rid of the substance much more slowly. The body also challenged studies on laboratory animals looking at the harmful effects of BPA – labelling some as “difficult to interpret”and “even contradictory”.

The BfR said this was why it was involved in a longer term study in mice over a low dose range which had reassessed the health risk from BPA and established a European safe limit value.

The risk assessment body said it had issued its opinion after a flurry of reports in the German and Austrian media about the presence of BPA in baby dummies. It said it was planning to conduct further research into this.

Related topics: Smart Packaging

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