retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Newsday reports that on Long Island, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy has signed legislation banning the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in empty beverage containers for children under the age of three. The measure, which actually contradicts the federal government’s position that BPA is safe, carries a $500 fine.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York) said that he plans to introduce similar BPA-banning legislation in Congress.

BPA has been the subject of some controversy. As previously reported here on MNB, there have been a series of studies linking BPA with health problems that include diabetes and heart disease. However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published a draft assessment saying that BPA does not pose a health hazard when people are exposed to small amounts, and that conclusion has been confirmed by European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Authority, Health Canada, the World Health Organization, Health and Consumer Protection Directorate of the European Commission; the European Chemical Bureau of the European Union; the European Scientific Panel on Food Additives, Flavorings, Processing Aids, and Materials in Contact with Food; and the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, as well as the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the American Chemistry Council.

However, that hasn’t stopped the Canadian government, Consumers Union (CU), the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and Walmart from disagreeing with the FDA decision; in Walmart’s case, it is not selling children’s products containing BPA. In addition, an independent panel of scientific advisors has told the FDA that its reasoning was flawed when it issued a provisional ruling that BPA is safe.

KC's View:
It is worth noting that at the IRI Summit last week in Las Vegas, the panel of “Mommy Bloggers” came out against the use of BPA in baby bottles and essentially said that this was a position widely held by concerned mothers nationwide … or at least the millions of activist mothers who share information online.

This ends up looking, by the way, like the FDA is on the side of the manufacturers making bottles with BPA, and that Walmart is on the side of the consumer. Which may be great positioning for Walmart, but it doesn’t appear to say much for the judgment of the FDA.