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Study methods & findings

EWG's Guide to Infant Formula and Baby Bottles: Study methods & findings

December 5, 2007

On July 31, 2007, EWG sent letters to every major formula manufacturer to inquire about their use of BPA in formula packaging and product testing. The only company who responded makes a toddler formula, intended for children older than 1 year, none of the infant formula makers responded. In October we launched a formal inquiry into the use of BPA in formula. EWG staff contacted the 4 major formula producers--Enfamil, Nestlé, Similac and PBM--as well as the leading manufacturer of organic formula Earth’s Best Organic. We contacted each company a minimum of 3 times, and asked company representatives a series of questions about BPA: 1) whether BPA was used in liquid and powdered formula containers; 2) whether the company had performed any analysis of BPA leaching into formula; 3) what their testing found; and 4) whether they would disclose test results to EWG. Contacts included at least 2 phone calls in which we documented all responses and at least 1 email inquiry to confirm that the information they provided parents was in synch with the information they provided environmental researchers. We found that all liquid formulas in metal cans are lined with a BPA-based plastic epoxy. Most powdered formulas contain some BPA-based lining, but the content ranges from 30 to 100% of the can surface.

Here are the company's answers to our interviewer's questions:

Nestlé uses a BPA-based plastic to line metal cans that hold liquid formula. They claim not to use any BPA in their powdered formula containers which, if true, would make them the only manufacturer to sell a baby formula with no risk of BPA-leaching. However, they would not provide EWG with a written statement to support this claim. Also, questions on the company’s ethical practices cause EWG to have concerns about recommending their product.

 

Company Nestlé
Brands Good Start, Mam
Dates contacted 9/21/07 9:38 a.m. (PDT), 10/4/07 11:15 a.m., 10/18/07 10:00 a.m. (EDT)
Phone number 1/800 284-9488
Company
representative(s)
Name(s) withheld for privacy
BPA in cans of liquid formula? Yes, liquid formulas sold in metal cans.
BPA in packages of powder formula? No
Test for BPA? No
Disclose results? N/A
FDA test results for liquid samples? BPA detected in 3 of 3 samples of liquid formula
EWG test results for liquid samples? None tested
Notes Nestle is the target of an international boycott for using unethical practices to market formula in the developing world (Aguayo 2003).

 

Ross-Abbot uses a BPA-based plastic to line metal in their liquid cans and the metal lid and bottom of their powdered containers. They are the only company that reported periodic testing for BPA in their products, and claim that their tests do not detect any leaching. They would not give EWG test results or a description of their test methods. Both EWG and FDA tests have detect BPA in their liquid formulas which gives reason to question Ross-Abbot’s testing methods.

 

Company Ross-Abbot
Brands Similac, Isomil, Alimentum, NeoSure
Dates contacted 9/20/07 12:15 p.m. (PDT), 10/03/07, 4:24 p.m. (EDT)
Phone number 1/800-227-5767
Company
representative(s)
Name(s) withheld for privacy
BPA in cans of liquid formula? Yes, liquid formulas sold in metal cans.
BPA in packages of powder formula? Yes, top and bottom lid of powdered containers
Test for BPA? Yes, "periodic testing detects no BPA"
Disclose results? Would not disclose test results to EWG.
FDA test results for liquid samples? BPA detected in 4 of 4 samples of liquid formula
EWG test results for liquid samples? BPA detected in 1 of 3 tests of liquid formula
Notes Given that FDA & EWG tests found BPA in cans of Similac, Ross-Abbot’s testing techniques may not be sensitive enough. Ross-Abbot also sells concentrated liquid formula in plastic containers that contain no BPA.

 

MeadJohnson uses a BPA-based plastic in their liquid formula packaging and in the top and bottom lids of their powdered formula containers. They do not perform tests to detect BPA in their products.

 

Company MeadJohnson
Brands Enfamil, Lactofree, Nutramigen, ProSobee
Dates contacted 9/20/07 12:30 p.m. (PDT) 10/03/07, 4:45 p.m. (EDT)
Phone number 1/800-222-9123
Company
representative(s)
Name(s) withheld for privacy
BPA in cans of liquid formula? Yes, liquid formulas sold in metal cans. Also used to line the lids of glass or plastic bottles.
BPA in packages of powder formula? Yes, top and bottom lid of powdered containers
Test for BPA? No
Disclose results? N/A
FDA test results for liquid samples? BPA detected in 3 of 3 cans of liquid formula
EWG test results for liquid samples? BPA detected in 1 of 3 cans of liquid formula

 

Hain-Celestial only sells powdered formula in a fully metal can, which uses a BPA-based plastic in the entire can lining. They do not test their product for BPA leaching.

 

Company Hain-Celestial
Brands Earth’s Best Organic
Dates contacted 9/20/07 12:50pm (PDT), multiple email attempts
Phone number 1/800-434-4246
Company
representative(s)
Name(s) withheld for privacy
BPA in cans of liquid formula? NA. The company sells only powdered formula
BPA in packages of powder formula? Yes
Test for BPA? No
Disclose results? N/A
FDA test results for liquid samples? N/A
EWG test results for liquid samples? N/A
Notes No one has tested Earth's Best formulas or any other powdered formulas sold in the U.S. for BPA

 

PBM manufactures infant formula for store brands and private labels. They uses a BPA-based lining on their metal cans for liquid and powder formula. EWG received copies of 2 emails PBM sent parents claiming that their product is BPA-free.

 

Company PBM, maker of store brand formulas
Brands Baby Basics, Babymil, Bright Beginnings, Comforts, CVS, Eckerd, Good Sense, Hill Country Fare, Home Best, Kozy Kids, Little Ones, Meijer, Nanny’s, Parent’s Choice, Perfect Choice, Shop Rite, Target, Top Care, Walgreens, Wegmans, Western Family.
Dates contacted 10/05/07, 4:00 p.m., 10/10/07 1:10 p.m., 10/12/07 1:20 p.m., 10/12/07 4:20 p.m. (EDT)
Phone number 1/800-272-5095
Company
representative(s)
Name(s) withheld for privacy
BPA in cans of liquid formula? Yes, liquid formulas sold in metal cans.
BPA in packages of powder formula? Yes
Test for BPA? No
Disclose results? N/A
FDA test results for liquid samples? BPA detected in 3 of 3 cans of liquid formula
EWG test results for liquid samples? None tested
Notes PBM gave conflicting answers to queries about its use of BPA. They told EWG researchers that their packaging contained BPA, but 2 emails to parents say that the company does not use it.