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Safeway Stores to Remove BPA-Laced Baby Bottles from Shelves

For Immediate Release: 
Tuesday, October 21, 2008

WASHINGTON – Safeway’s announcement today that it will stop selling baby bottles containing the plastics component bisphenol-A (BPA) in its 1,775 stores in the U.S. and Canada is a promising first step toward reducing infants’ exposure to the hormone-disrupting chemical.

“Once again, we have a major retailer setting stringent public health safety standards in an effort to reduce babies’ exposure to this toxic chemical,” said Environmental Working Group (EWG) Senior Scientist Sonya Lunder. “This is a job that should be done by the FDA. Safeway’s action is another blow to the federal Food and Drug Administration’s increasingly isolated position that a toxic sex hormone is somehow safe in baby products.”

The Environmental Working Group’s research has found that the combined exposures from BPA in formula and baby bottles cause a substantial number of infants to consume unhealthy levels of the chemical, which laboratory studies have linked to cancer, brain, nervous system and behavioral malfunctions, reproductive system abnormalities, obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Infants fed canned liquid formula are also exposed to the chemical via BPA-laden epoxy lacquer used to line aluminum formula cans.

An August 2007 investigation by EWG estimated that at BPA levels found in ready-to-eat liquid formula, 1 of every 16 infants fed the formula would be exposed to the chemical at doses exceeding those that caused harm in laboratory studies.

In September 2008, the National Toxicology Program, an arm of the National Institutes of Health, expressed concern about BPA’s “effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children at current human exposures.” The FDA, taking an opposing stance, contends there is insufficient evidence to warrant ordering BPA removed from baby bottles, formula cans and other food packaging.

But an increasing number of food processors and retailers have taken voluntary measures in response to pressures from consumers, health groups and some public officials.

Safeway, the nation’s third largest supermarket chain, announced its decision to pull BPA-based baby bottles from its shelves in coordination with San Francisco City Supervisor Michela Alioto-Peir’s call for a voluntary halt in sales and use of BPA-laced baby bottles in the Bay area. Safeway joins a list of companies that have taken similar action, including Whole Foods, Walmart, Toys-R-Us, Nalgene and Camelbak.

Last weekend, Canadian health officials listed BPA as a toxic substance, a move that paves the way for an expected ban on BPA-based plastic baby bottles and reduction of BPA in canned infant formula in that country.

On Oct. 31, the FDA is scheduled to hear final recommendations from its Science Board BPA subcommittee over whether to ban BPA in baby bottles, formula cans and other food packaging. FDA has resisted restricting use of the chemical in food contact items, basing its assertion that BPA is harmless on just two industry-funded studies.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found BPA in 93 percent of people tested because the chemical is ubiquitous in the food supply and environment. Global sales of BPA have been estimated to exceed $6 billion annually.

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EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment.

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