EWG: Infant Formula Companies Should Come Clean on Melamine, BPA
WASHINGTON - November 26, 2008 - In response to yesterday's report that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found another toxic chemical -- this time melamine -- in infant formula, Environmental Working Group (EWG) today called on major formula makers to inform consumers what steps they are taking to ensure their products are safe.
"Concerned parents will not accept any avoidable risks when it comes to their children's food," EWG president Ken Cook said in letters to senior managers at Mead Johnson, Abbott, Nestle and PBM Products.
"Parents have learned to doubt FDA's reflexive reassurances that formula contaminants pose no risks," Cook said. "Parents spend a substantial amount on formula each year. They have trusted your company to do everything possible to provide their children with safe, healthy and pure food."
Pure formula is crucial for several reasons. Only during infancy does a single food make up 100 percent of a person's daily diet. Because of their small size and large appetites, infants consume much more food than adults. Moreover, their developing systems are less able to detoxify harmful chemicals - like melamine and BPA - than those of adults.
The special vulnerabilities of infants are particularly apparent in the case of BPA, a toxic sex hormone that leaches from metal can linings into liquid formula. BPA concentrations in liquid formula are less than 20 parts per billion ‹- just 10 percent the amount of melamine reported to have contaminated U.S. formula. However, many government and independent scientists agree that even these low levels of BPA put infants at unacceptable risk of harm. It is well established that formula-fed babies ingest the highest concentrations of BPA of any age group.
In the wake of an FDA advisory panel's devastating rebuke last month of the agency's safety assessment for BPA, EWG wrote the same infant formula manufacturers urging them to take immediate steps to remove BPA from canned infant formula and other canned foods. To date, not one of those companies has responded.
FDA's testing for melamine came to light after reporters with the Associated Press submitted a Freedom of Information Request for the agency's internal testing results.
"The FDA has trashed its charge to protect the health of consumers, and instead, has embraced the standard industry position to dodge and weave in order to diminish public concern," Cook said in a separate statement to the press. "When FDA claims there isn't any reason to worry, that's exactly what the consumer should do. The once-revered public health agency has morphed into a taxpayer-funded public relations arm for the very industries it was created to oversee."
The text of the entire letter can be found here: http://www.ewg.org/node/27390
EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment.