Baby Bottles

Reporter: Helen Wellings

Last year we investigated the alleged dangers in many brands of baby's bottles as well as in food containers and aluminium cans. The controversial chemical is called BPA or bisphenol A and it's been banned overseas, but not in Australia because our health authorities believe it's safe.

Fears about Bisphenol A, or BPA, are at boiling point because most of us are in contact with this allegedly toxic chemical everyday. BPA's in brittle plastic polycarbonates for many brands of baby bottles and sippy cups.

"If you are washing them or heating liquids in them, particularly fatty liquids then the BPA can migrate into that liquid and then is ingested by the child" says Christopher Zinn from Choice. BPA's also in water dispensers, plastic tableware, food storage containers, in the lining of many canned foods.

"When you open up a tin can, if it has epoxy resin in it, which is typically the white lining, that is when BPA can migrate into that foodstuff" says Christopher. Bisphenol A is in aluminium cans for beer, mixers and soft drinks. The concern - BPA is an endocrine disrupting chemical, it mimics the sex hormone oestrogen. Scientists have linked it to infertility, problems with reproductive development in foetuses and children, early puberty in girls, obesity, breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, thyroid malfunction, even ADD.

"We say risky because the risk is of disruption to the hormonal sexual development, particularly of young boys, as the evidence shows" adds Christopher. It's been a big issue in America and Canada where it's been on the news for years. Nothing in Australia" says Anti- BPA campaigner, Nadia Deusing. She wants action - Denmark, Canada, and some US states have banned BPA in baby's bottles or have legislation pending. Even the biggest baby bottle makers in the US have stopped using the chemical.

Since Today Tonight first raised the potential dangers of the chemical last year the buck-passing from those you'd think are responsible for public health has surged. Food Standards Australia and New Zealand's Chief Scientist, Dr Paul Brent, says as BPA's not a food, it doesn't have the power to ban it. The Therapeutic Goods Administration says it's not up to them, the Federal Department of Health referred us back to Food Standards Australia. If they decide BPA is unsafe, they'll refer it to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for a possible recall. But that's unlikely.

Nadia Deunsing says there are safe alternatives to BPA. She manufactured Smart Baby bottles - BPA-free. "They are made of polyestersulphane plastic which will not release any chemicals or BPA." Manufacturers are not required to disclose the type of plastic on the label, but some use number symbols.

"It's a little triangle and has the number 7. 7 stands for other plastic including bisphenol A" explains Nadia. "There is a precautionary principle involved here. There are other alternatives out there. They should be used, we should be phasing out these kinds of risky products as soon as possible" says Christopher. The BPA-free Smart Baby bottles are available in selected pharmacists and on-line. Glass and stainless steel bottles and containers are also good alternatives.

CONTACTS:

Nadia Duensing

Options for Health Australia Pty Ltd.

Website: www.smartbabybottle.com.au

Smart Baby bottles

Tel: (07) 5597 6696

Email: info@smartbabybottle.com.au

"Blissfully Unaware of Bisphenol A. Reasons why Legislators Should Live up to their Responsibilities." by Friends of the Earth Australia and Europe, Dr Rye Senjen. September 2008.

Ecolibria

A Melbourne company, supplies BPA and other chemical-free bottles made of glass and stainless steel.

Website: www.ecolibria.com.au

Bebelle's

Website: www.bebelle.com.au

Glass baby's bottles in protective silicone sheath: available soon by ordering from: www.bubbabasics.com.au