WHAT IS BISPHENOL-A?Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a chemical compound used to create polycarbonate plastic, a hard, clear plastic used widely in consumer products, including food and beverage containers. Recent research suggests that small amounts of BPA may leach into foods or beverages stored in polycarbonate containers, especially when the contents are acidic, high in fat, or heated. Research also suggests that, at certain levels, BPA acts as an endocrine disruptor, a substance which mimics natural human hormones.
ARE #7 BOTTLES SAFE?Note that #7 stands for a number of different materials; Polycarbonate plastic is generally marked with the #7 recycling symbol, but not all plastics marked #7 are polycarbonate. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates food contact substances, says polycarbonate is safe as a food contact surface. While research suggests certain plastics contain estrogenic materials, it has not shown conclusively that these substances are harmful to humans via exposure from food packaging. Much more work is necessary, and we are pursuing the answers, working with leading experts and our suppliers to understand this complex issue.
WHAT IS WHOLE FOODS MARKET'S POLICY ON BPA?We are committed to helping our customers protect themselves and their families and as such are concerned about the growing body of research which connects BPA and other estrogenic compounds, including phthalates, to certain negative health effects. The FDA says that such materials are safe as a food contact surface. However, we are currently evaluating certain products and packaging materials on a variety of criteria, including endocrine activity, toxicity, recyclability and functionality. Our goal is to help our shoppers avoid endocrine-active materials in products and packaging where functional alternatives exist.
WHAT ACTIONS HAS WHOLE FOODS MARKET TAKEN WITH REGARD TO BPA?We actively follow academic research regarding the endocrine activity of substances present in plastics, including BPA. When appropriate, we have stopped the sale of certain products and/or provided information to our customers about the products. For example, as of January 2006 we were the first national U.S. retailer to stop selling baby bottles and child drinking cups made from polycarbonate plastic or other plastics with added phthalates because of the emerging scientific evidence on their risk.
We are also actively supporting our suppliers' transition to non-BPA materials where functional alternatives exist. For example, the majority of the refillable individual water bottles in our stores were once made from polycarbonate plastic. Currently, nearly all of those bottles are made from other materials. Polycarbonate plastic is still used in certain large plastic bottles and aluminum can linings in our stores; we are working with manufacturers to strongly encourage the development of alternative products.
We continue to closely examine the packaging materials used in our stores, and we will continue to search for the safest and most functional packaging materials for our stores.
WHAT IS THE NATIONAL TOXICOLOGY PROGRAM, AND WHAT DID THEIR RECENT REPORT ON BPA SAY?The purpose of the NTP — and its Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction, which issued the report — is to provide scientific evaluations of the potential for harm to humans from substances in the environment. The NTP issued a draft report on BPA on April 14, 2008. In this report, the NTP evaluated relevant scientific research on BPA and its health effects, and made the following preliminary conclusions:
People are exposed to BPA from a number of sources, primarily the diet, as BPA can migrate into foods and beverages from polycarbonate plastic. Food temperature appears to be one major factor in determining the rate of leaching.BPA can possibly affect human development or reproduction. There is not sufficient data on the effects of low doses of BPA such as those caused by food contact to make a definite conclusion. NTP writes that "the results of 'low' dose studies on BPA provide limited evidence for adverse effects on development in laboratory animals."There is some reason for concern for the effects of BPA on humans, and there is a definite need for further research in this area.NTP's final version of the report was released in September, 2008. The center's final conclusions were consistent with their preliminary findings. Their complete findings are available on their website.
WHAT DID THE SEPTEMBER 2008 JAMA ARTICLES SAY ABOUT BPA?A study in the September 17, 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association examined the association between blood BPA levels and certain diseases. Higher BPA levels were associated with higher incidences of cardiovascular diagnoses and diabetes as well as abnormal levels of certain liver enzymes; no correlation was found between BPA and any other diseases.
This study is an important one in the very young field of research on BPA and its relationship to human health. The authors conclude that "These findings add to the evidence suggesting adverse effects of low-dose BPA in animals. Independent replication and follow-up studies are needed to confirm these findings and to provide evidence on whether the associations are causal."
The authors highlight the "multiple potential routes of human exposure" for BPA; humans are exposed to this substance not just through diet but via medical and dental devices, airborne dust and transdermal exposure. This study does not assess the likelihood of exposure via the various potential exposure routes, and we believe this is an area of study that should be further researched. Consumers and the food industry would benefit immensely from a more sophisticated understanding of how humans are exposed to BPA.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
I found the following article on the Whole Foods website and thought that you have the right to know what exactly you might be consuming!