Toxic Plastics Chemical in Infant Formula

Executive summary

August 8 2007. Laboratory tests of canned infant formula conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a certified commercial laboratory reveal that a plastics chemical called bisphenol A (BPA) leaches from metal can linings into formula. According to a new EWG analyses, the amount of BPA ingested by some bottle-fed infants exceeds the doses that caused serious adverse effects in animal studies.
EWG's analyses of BPA levels in ready-to-eat and concentrated formula, paired with government data on infant formula consumption show:
  • One of every 16 infants fed ready-to-eat canned formula would be exposed to BPA at doses exceeding those that altered testosterone levels, affected neurodevelopment, and caused other permanent harm to male and female reproductive systems.
  • Infants fed concentrated formula mixed with water would also be exposed to potentially unsafe amounts of BPA, in excess of standard government safety margins. While water added to concentrated formula lowers BPA concentrations in the final mixture, our analyses still show that one of every 16 infants fed concentrated formula would be exposed to BPA at doses within a factor of 2 of harmful doses.
  • At the highest BPA levels found in formula, 17 parts per billion (ppb), nearly two-thirds of all infants fed ready-to-eat formula would be exposed above doses that proved harmful in animal tests (Figure 1).
These analyses, coupled with exposure estimates in other studies, demonstrate that bottle-fed infants likely face higher BPA exposures than any other segment of the population, and highlight the urgency of setting standards for this chemical to protect babies who are overexposed through canned liquid formula.

Figure 1. BPA has been found in infant formula at levels ranging up to 17 parts per billion, a concentration at which nearly two-thirds of infants would exceed doses shown to harm test animals.

Source: EWG analysis of BPA exposures based on government and commercial lab tests of BPA in formula, and formula consumption rates and body weights measured in government surveys. This graph reflects procedures described in the methodology section of this report, with the exception that exposure estimates for individual infants created in the exposure model were based on incremental, assumed BPA concentrations in formula, and grouped as a function of BPA concentration for purposes of graphical display. Estimated single-day exposures are compared against BPA dose of 2.4 ug/kg body weight / day linked in lab studies to alterations in testosterone levels and referenced as "toxic dose" in figure above (see Section 3 of this report). Note that results shown above will underpredict infants exposed above even lower doses found harmful in animal studies, including a dose of 2.0 ug/kg/day linked to permanent damage of reproductive system from in-utero exposures.
Failures to protect infants from BPA risks. FDA last assessed the safety of BPA in infant formula in 1996, based on tests of 14 infant formula samples (Bailey 1996). Dozens of peer reviewed studies published since that time reveal adverse effects of BPA at exposures dramatically lower than those known at the time to be harmful, and, significantly lower than exposures for infants drinking BPA-contaminated formula.
Yet despite scientists' dramatically altered understanding of low-dose BPA toxicity, FDA has not tested additional samples of infant formula for BPA, and has failed to reassess the safety of BPA-contaminated infant formula since its original assessment 11 years ago. FDA does not require infant formula manufacturers to test their products for BPA.
Instead, in 2006 the federal government launched a BPA health risk assessment under the National Institutes of Health's (NIH's) Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (CERHR). From the outset the assessment process has been plagued by concerns over scientific credibility and conflicts of interest:
  • The contractor in charge of the assessment both helped form the panel, which lacks BPA experts, and prepared the initial draft assessment for the panel's review. This contractor was subsequently fired by CERHR over concerns about potential conflicts of interest, but the panel was allowed to continue with its initial membership, working from the draft assessment prepared by the fired contractor.
  • In external review comments submitted to the panel, BPA experts revealed that the CERHR assessment appears to contain nearly 300 errors of fact and interpretation; is biased, inconsistent, incomplete; and clearly fails to meet the most basic scientific standards. [see EWG's full review]
What could have been the first opportunity in a decade to advance public health protections for this problematic chemical instead ended in CERHR issuing a final assessment on August 8, 2007 that fails to support stronger public health safeguards for bottle-fed infants, pregnant women, and other at-risk populations.
BPA has been detected in thousands of people worldwide, including 93 percent of 2,500 people in the United States. More than 100 peer-reviewed studies have found BPA to be toxic at low doses, some similar to those found in people, yet not a single public health agency has updated safety standards to reflect this low-dose toxicity.
This country's toxics law, the Toxic Substances Control Act, fails to require that chemical companies prove thier products are safe before they are sold, even when these chemicals end up in people's bodies, as is the case for BPA. This law was passed in 1976, and 31 years later is the only major public health and environmental statute in this country that has never been updated. This panel certainly has not done their part to help fill the gaps in this broken system of public health protections.
As a result of these policy gaps, BPA is now one of the most widely used industrial chemicals, is found at unsafe levels in people, is allowed in unlimited quantities in a broad range of consumer products including infant formula, and is entirely without safety standards. BPA provides irrefutable proof that our system of public health protections must be strengthened to protect children and others most vulnerable to chemical harm.


Lab tests of canned food — BPA contamination in more than half of 97 name-brand canned foods:
EWG comments to CERHR summarizing nearly 300 errors of fact and interpretation in BPA assessment identified by BPA experts:

product review/rave!

i have been struggling to get and keep my allergy guy, elijah (3) at baseline since last june, when we lost our tenuous hold on it after several viruses invaded our home and he suddenly became allergic to nearly everything left in our very restricted diet. once the illnesses and consequent testing and re-testing for false positives were over, we had lost most beans, lentils and sesame (in addition to our forbidden top 8 plus corn) but were otherwise able to get back to "our normal"/restricted diet.

i just haven't been able to quite get him all the way back to baseline, no matter what i try. we lost shampoos, conditioners and soaps for him shortly after last june - his scalp began peeling and then cracking and bleeding even with only weekly washings. we now anoint his head with raw virgin coconut oil and use a fine tooth comb to section and comb it throughout. then i put a little knit cap on overnight, rinse it in a hot shower the next day and he's great! no more cradle cap at all. we have to do it 2-3 times weekly. we also discovered 'kiss your face' brand aloe and olive oil soap and use that only on the parts that really need it - just water for the rest.

still, on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the worst, he's remained flared up and broken out at a out a 3/4 until recently. i'm still not sure if it's a coincidence or not, but a facebook friend (thank you again, lynette!) posted about hazelwood jewelry and its purported ability to absorb excess acids in the system that can lead to things like eczema, rashes, reflux, etc...

i've embraced heartily the philosophy of, "if it can't hurt...why not try it?"
so i did!

i have to say, the next day, he was down to a 1 on the breakout scale. i ended up putting 2 of them on him at once. he's been at a ZERO ever since!! the company i ordered from was fabulous - a tiny piece of wood broke off the first necklace and i sent them an email with pictures of it. they promptly sent me a replacement at no extra charge. i got it from and plan to keep one on him indefinitely.

i'm usually a total skeptic about these things but it's really the only new thing i've done in the last 6 months - this is not a child you can introduce new things to as far as diet and personal care products. i'd love to hear it if other people have had other experiences or if you decide to try it as well
-leave a comment and let me know how it went!

candy in schools rant

below is a response i posted on my fb profile about an article i reshared on gluten issues. it's just after valentine's day and i've been grappling with my every-holiday frustration about the schools providing my kids with candy for the occasion. as well as ice cream with candy toppings this year. @@. i got the expected dissention on my profile and told i need to lighten up about the issue, but i just can't. i'm trying to examine why.

all i can come up with is: if you've ever done weight watchers or any other type of intensive diet, you might understand a little. your world narrows down and you get tunnel vision about food. you obsess over it, you think about it constantly, you have to train your mind to be brainwashed into accepting the new restrictions. it's insanely hard, which is why everyone i know who lost weight on atkins & south beach has now gained it back and then some. you have to go through your anger, your grieving, your relapsing, your seeing through eyes that decide everyone else has the same issue you do, but don't know it (you know, like recovered alcoholics that are sure everyone else is an alcoholic, too!), and finally to acceptance and resigned self-denial. well, i don't know if most fad diets last 3 years, but part of what happens when you have to do it this long is some level of intolerance.

i feel very intolerant of someone else feeding my kids crap i know is harmful. when i've had to be this rigid for this long, it's pretty hard to make my mind flexible again around the concessions i've already made.

i have had to go on the most extreme elimination diet of just about anyone i've ever heard of - starting 3 yrs ago. we now have to completely eliminate:

dairy, corn, egg, soy, wheat (gluten 99% - b/c i don't have to worry about cross-contamination) seafood, shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts, most beans, lentils and sesame.

and i consider us lucky, b/c there was a time last summer when we had to go down to nothing but rice and a few fruits for over a week, when 'lou became allergic to everything on the limited menu we had been eating!

so, imagine the mindset it takes to maintain living this way for this long. if you got all emotional about giving up your favorite foods for atkins or weight watchers or south beach, imagine what i went through. there's no days off for me, no reward days, not even any cheating, ever. i tried that the 1st few wks and watched what it did to my son and the guilt was hideous.

i have to spend a huge chunk of my free time learning about foods today. trying to understand why 2 of my kids could die from eating foods that should nourish them. finding other families with kids like this so i can learn about and from them, too. and oddly enough, as a lactation counselor who mostly gets clients through word-of-mouth, i seem to be attracting mainly new moms that have just been told their babies are allergic to one, several or many foods the mom eats. so you could say my whole world is pretty much about these issues for the past 3 yrs or so. so this could either make me a real radical...or a lay expert, depending on if you want to learn anything about (or agree with) what i'm saying.

one thing it doesn't make me is someone who can afford to lighten up about it.

with my oldest three children (11, 9.5 and 6 now) -they can eat almost anything they want w/ no ill effects (except dairy - they all get sinus and ear problems from it). even before food allergies, i never allowed any of my children to have straight cow's milk, ever - nor did i ever drink it myself - except before i was too young to have a choice. they've never had soda or juices or much candy at all. i definitely bought into the "they're not fat, so we can do fast food" philosophy and absolutely hated cooking and fed them from boxes and cans and thought it was pretty normal and even healthy!!
( "there's tomatoes in spaghettios!! tomatoes are very healthy"!!)

it's been hardest on them to convert to this restricted diet and all the home cooked meals. they remember the addictive trash food more than the younger kids. i've made a compromise with them. they have to eat as we do at home. but for school, i still use more traditional foods in their lunches. i buy the trader joe's or annie's organics spaghettios now and then. i make wraps with "normal" tortillas as well as spinach or tomato ones. but *i* choose when, how much and why.

just like i imagine spankers who got up in arms about the schools paddling their kids back in the day, so do i feel about the schools giving my kids candy and junk food. it upsets the balance i'd already decided i could live with. and truly, our school is pretty excessive about it as far as i can tell when comparing with other parents. and I'M the parent and they're MY kids - nobody else gets all the rights i have to make these decisions for my kids. i think the problem is that most other people don't even realize that standard food is pretty much like poison for families that have to live as we do.

anyway! rather than absolutely forbid my kids to ever experience the temptations out there, i do see they need to learn moderation (my definition of moderation might differ from most people's, i know - LOL!) and learn how to navigate social pressures about food choices for themselves. i'm trying to find ways to help them make better decisions when on their own rather than push my doctrine onto them further.

for example, knowing the school party was going to be another sit-in-the-classrooms-and- gorge-yourself-on-candy event, i told all 3 of my sons that if they politely declined any and all candy and donated what they received from friends back to the teacher, i would reward them with a $5 bill and immediate trip to spend it after school. only my oldest took the incentive, but the wails of protest from the other 2 told me i might have more takers for the next party!

it was a valuable lesson for my oldest and it was interesting to hear his perception of resisting the junk food. there were no other activities available in the classroom, everyone was eating candy and ice cream. he sat at his desk and read his ebook. his teacher came up to him several times and asked if he was feeling all right and urged him to go get some of the treats. they had all been ill recently, so i understand her concern over how he was feeling.

i am so proud that he resisted her urgings toward the junk food. jake is a real people pleaser. it's very important to him to be well thought of and have adults happy with him. he felt he was somehow disappointing, worrying or inconveniencing his teacher by not doing as the other children were. but he politely stood firm and didn't eat any of it and i rewarded him immediately after school, as promised.

i don't blame the teacher here or think in any way she was trying to harm my son - i honestly think she wanted to give the kids a treat and a fun day and everyone knows kids love candy and ice cream best. she's just being nice. and honestly, it's the room moms who organize and bring the treats in - the teacher just goes along with their choices. if i really want to change things, i know i need to become a room mom and lobby to bring in healthy treats or take the emphasis off food as a means of celebrating and do crafts or games or ask that they exchange things like silly bandz instead of candy or something.

but guess what? i don't want to be a room mom. i don't even particularly want to be much of an involved school mom. i don't want to fight the norm and upset everyone and ask for all these changes. my plate is already more than full w/ the educating and advocating i do elsewhere in my life. my kids are top students, completely independent, well-adjusted, socially responsible little people (thank you, APing!) and i don't need nor want to hover. my free time is used helping a much more needy and fragile demographic - new babies that need their moms to breastfeed them and learn how to eat, without eating things their babies are allergic to. i need my kids to learn how to make good decisions for themselves now that they're old enough to. i haven't succeeded as a parent if i have to go to school and remove every obstacle for them. besides, i'm going to have to whether i like it or not when my allergy children start school, so i really need to make sure the other 3 can make good decisions on their own.

this doesn't mean i won't rant and rave about it when i hear how much temptation and pressure their school puts on them toward unhealthy foods, though!! with the diabesity epidemic our kids are dealing with today, i'm shocked every time i hear another candy-filled holiday party is scheduled or another pizza party for meeting some goal during the week is coming up. i can't believe other parents aren't protesting it.

so, there's the background on the facebook rant and here's the rant. i think it's worth preserving for days when i feel like i just can't do this anymore...and if it helps someone else along the way, even better. if it offends you or makes you defensive and you just don't think any of it will ever apply to you or your family - ignore it. but know i can't let it go or shut up about it, i'm stuck living this way with children who are harmed by what has happened to food today...and i spend my time helping other babies being harmed by it and i need to speak up or spontaneously combust sometimes, it's just how i'm built. if you can still be my friend despite our differences of opinion on such incendiary matters, we have a resilient friendship indeed & i will try to return the favor. :-)


it is a slap in the face, isn't it? i r/m when i 1st started learning about all this stuff...i absolutely did not want to hear it and didn't really b/l it, either. i would get so overwhelmed i couldn't even absorb the facts. i'd push it all away and decide it was radical, biased, hyped up BS -just scare tactics. i'd cheat "just a little" on the diet restrictions and watch my son get sicker.

i know it pisses ppl off and annoys them, makes them defensive and makes them roll their eyes or think i'm some crunchy radical treehugger when i go off on my tangents about foods and the school feeding my kids junk... but how can i unlearn what i've learned? how can i unexperience what i've experienced?

how can i not be territorial and possessive about what someone gets to feed my kids when i know what i know? it's one thing for ME to decide to take exactly so much risk in letting the non-allergic ones have 5 or 6 pizza and ice cream days a yr...i can prepare for it, monitor it, and make myself okay w/ it b/c it's in such moderation. but to think of someone else like the school doing it...w/ no moderation, little monitoring, at the drop of a hat w/ no notice or permission from me...just drives me crazy.

as a parent today, i've learned that i have to worry about melamine in the food supply, GMO's, now plastic particles in chinese rice (!!) besides the allergens that are an every meal concern...there's no way a teacher can check labels and ingredients for all that for 25-30 kids.

w/ the rising rate of food allergies and strange new GM foods being made today, i simply don't think anybody should be feeding kids except their parents or caregivers, for liability reasons, if nothing else!

what if jovie had had her 1st anaphylactic reaction at school during a holiday party instead of home? what if it happened when she was way out on the playground, behind the trees? how long until some kid *does* have their 1st reaction at school? is the teacher going to come to the hospital and stay there w/ my kids until they're recovered? is the school going to help pay for dental care for cavities back when they had a party nearly every day for student bdays? help my kid lose weight when they get fat from pizza parties every friday and then some? no? then guess what? if you're not going to address the issues harmful food is going to cause for my kid - and it's going to be MY problem if you unknowingly feed them melamine chocolate or something - then YOU shouldn't be feeding them!

we just don't know what's in the food today, let alone how ppl are reacting to it - it should be up to me what my kids eat and how often i'm willing to let them get the crap. i don't need the schools or anyone else stacking the deck towards more potential harm for them.

ppl want to pretend it's just about too much fat and preservatives in our foods and decide that moderation is okay -"my kid doesn't have a weight problem, we can do mcdonald's a cpl times a wk" but it's not about trans fats and preservatives anymore. the food we eat today is almost unrecognizable as the food we ate when we were kids and nobody has any idea what it's really doing to our kids. the saddest part is ppl really don't want to know. which is why our food industry gets away w/ feeding us slop other countries won't even take from us for their animals.
wake up and smell the GMO's, peeps - we're one sick nation.

reallergic peanut allergy update

jovie had her retesting done on jan 18th. it confirmed severe (level 3) peanut allergy.

so, just like that, we are back at square one and i am left confused and wondering how she could have truly been over the allergy and is now right back where she was. her allergist says he has only read of such cases, but it does happen. i wish i'd never given her any peanut and just left well enough alone when he told me she was no longer allergic. at least now she'd be walking around w/ a little bit of a buffer for accidental exposures. i mean, if it took 3 or 4 instances of directly and intentionally eating almost a tablespoon of peanut butter, she could have had quite a few tiny accidental exposures before she would be immediately anaphylactic again. now i've used up that buffer b/c i gave that much to her every single week.

and if she overcame it with 4 years of total elimination of peanuts once, can i expect that with 4 more years of avoidance, she might outgrow it again? her dr. says no, that it is a lifelong allergy now...but can he really know for sure? i'm not looking for my child to someday be able to eat peanut butter on a regular basis, i just want that buffer back - so she isn't always one crumb away from choking to death from her airway closing up. i'd give anything just for a little buffer again.

one good thing to come of it, however, is that her dr. discussed the case with his fellow allergists in their practice and mentioned my recommendation that all severe allergy cases should have TWO food challenges in their office before being declared "cured" of their allergy, since the 1st exposure would count as the (new) sensitizing exposure in a child that had outgrown an allergy to the offending food. the next exposure would really be the telltale one. had we been in a controlled environment and looking for it, the dr. would have caught jovie's 1st reaction at her 2nd exposure to peanuts. we were very lucky, her most recent (anaphylactic) reaction could have been much worse or even fatal.

i didn't think the dr. would take my suggestion seriously as it is evidently so rare for any person to become re-allergic like this - so soon and so seriously - but her allergist told me they have changed their policy at their practice to adopt my suggestion and it's already in practice! i LOVE a dr. who is open to learning from his patients!! it makes me feel like we are truly in the same boat and working as a team - we are all learning as we go along and open to listening to each other's viewpoints.

the next step is meeting with her school about going peanut free, which i am hoping will go smoothly as our high school already is and it seems pretty inevitable anyway. so far the 504 coordinator has been nothing but helpful and concerned, so i am encouraged.

i am still left pondering why my children always seem to be the ones that never fit in w/ the way things usually work. if there's a rare side effect, it happens to them. if there's a "variation of normal", it's them. if there's a "one in a ten/hundred/thousand/ten thousand" chance, it happens to my kids. at times it's made me really insecure, self-conscious, be called a 'munchausen-by-proxy mama' or even ignore or downplay my children's symptoms b/c i don't quite believe it myself or want to be "that mom" who always has the weird issues.

but i'm beginning to formulate a theory about what might be behind it all and am putting my thoughts together for another post all about it - stay tuned! :-)

60 Minutes Report : Phthalates: Are They Safe?