The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel continued its "Watchdog report" series on bisphenol A safety this weekend. The newest wrinkle: the results of lab tests on containers either marketed for infants or billed as microwave-safe. According to the story, the 10 products tested release "toxic doses" of BPA when heated. If regulators agree with the "toxic" defiinition -- and if the lab results are accurate -- it could extend the issue of BPA safety beyond polycarbonate baby bottles and reusable sport drink containers. "The newspaper's test results raise new questions about the chemical and the safety of an entire inventory of plastic products labeled as 'microwave safe,'" the story says. "The newspaper tests also revealed that BPA, commonly thought to be found only in hard, clear plastic and in the lining of metal food cans, is present in frozen food trays, microwaveable soup containers and plastic baby food packaging." Frederick vom Saal, the University of Missouri researcher who has kept a spotlight on BPA safety for the past decade, oversaw the Journal Sentinel's testing. He's quoted in the story saying: "There is no such thing as safe microwaveable plastic." Some manufacturers quoted in the story dispute that conclusion. The story quotes John Faulkner, director of brand communications for Campbell Soup Co., who wrote: "These levels are EXTREMELY low. In fact, you might just be able to find similar levels in plain old tap water due to "background" levels. We are talking 40 to 60 parts per trillion (ppt). What is 40 to 60 ppt? 40 to 60 seconds in 32,000 years! Essentially, these levels have absolutely no relevance in terms of human risk." The Journal Sentinel's Web site includes that emailed response, as well as a statement from the American Chemistry Council and statements from manufacturers of other products that were tested. Rubbermaid, for example, notes that "BPA is used in a small fraction of our products including Premier to provide the clarity and stain & odor resistance consumers desire. Based on numerous thorough, empirical scientific studies and the positions taken by major regulatory authorities from around the globe, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Union, we continue to believe Bisphenol A is safe in our applications." But the company goes on to say that the company has a new page on its Web site to help consumers "easily identify which Rubbermaid food and beverage containers do and do not contain BPA, to help consumers choose alternatives if they wish." It looks like BPA safety issues are getting ready to leap into new segments of the packaging and housewares markets. It will be interesting to see how companies respond.
BPA in microwave-safe containers
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