New Regulation to Phase Out Bisphenol A From Infant Bottles and Children's Cups

About the new law

On May 7, 2009, Gov. Pawlenty signed into law an act, passed by strong margins in both houses of the Legislature, prohibiting the sale of children’s bottles and cups containing bisphenol A (BPA). The text of the act is available from the Minnesota Office of the Revisor of Statutes and appears as Minn. Stat. 325F.172 to 173 as of 2009. The ban affects manufacturers and wholesalers starting on January 1, 2010, and retailers starting on January 1, 2011. The law applies only to bottles and cups made for infants and children under three years of age; food cans, including infant formula cans, are not affected.

Potential impact of the law

What products are affected?

The new law applies only to new bottles and cups intended for children from birth to three years of age. Therefore, after the ban takes effect, you may still find bottles containing BPA for sale at thrift stores, yard sales, and other resale outlets. Remember that these bottles should be treated with care to minimize the leaching of BPA from the bottle to the bottle’s contents. For more information on bottle care, see MDH's Bisphenol A Web page. The new law does not apply to any other plastic products, food containers, or other items that may contain BPA.

Is the ban the result of a recent change in our understanding of the health risks of BPA?

The position taken by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) on the safety of bottles containing BPA has not changed-- the risk from exposure to BPA in baby bottles is low, but not zero.  For more information, see MDH’s Bisphenol A Web page.

Why did the state ban BPA from these products?

The new law provides an abundance of precaution about BPA for a sensitive subpopulation (infants and young children). The precautionary measure of banning BPA from the bottles is expected to create minimal inconvenience to the public because manufacturers and retailers have already responded to consumer interest in BPA-free alternative products by making them widely available.

Will this ban reduce my child’s exposure to BPA?

If you have been using baby bottles or cups containing BPA, switching to an alternative product will probably reduce, but not eliminate, your child’s exposure. However, the items covered in the new statute are not the only source of BPA to which your child may be exposed. Small amounts of BPA may enter the body through the consumption of canned food. Most food cans are lined with resins containing BPA; the lining protects the food from bacterial contamination and isolates the food from the metal. BPA has also been found at low concentrations in human breast milk as a result of the mother’s exposure to BPA.

BPA-free alternatives

Are there any concerns about “alternative” BPA-free bottles and cups?

BPA-free baby bottles made of other types of plastic need to be cleaned and handled with care, and discarded if they show signs of damage, such as scratches, creases, or soft spots. Some plastic baby bottles can be damaged by antibacterial cleaning products. Non-plastic bottles may have hazards not related to chemical exposure; for example, a glass bottle is likely to break if dropped. Be sure to read the cleaning and care instructions for all baby bottles and cups, regardless of what material they are made of.

What are BPA-free plastic bottles and cups made of?

The composition of BPA-free plastic baby bottles varies by manufacturer, so the best approach for a specific product is to contact the manufacturer. The most common BPA-free plastic in baby bottles is polyethersulfone, a plastic whose resistance to acids and tolerance of high temperatures has made it a common choice in laboratory equipment. Polyethersulfone is a relatively new type of plastic in baby bottles, and its potential toxicity has not been studied as thoroughly as polycarbonates made with BPA. In some applications, additives are incorporated into the plastic to enhance durability.

Some baby bottles, or associated parts such as nipple rings, are made from other plastics, including polypropylene. Polypropylene is a common plastic used in many consumer products, including reusable, microwaveable food storage containers. Polypropylene products may be marked with a recycling code number (Plastic Identification Code) of 5 and may also be stamped “PP.” Like polyethersulfone, polypropylene has found numerous uses in medicine and in laboratory equipment.

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Updated Wednesday, 31-Aug-2011 10:36:17 CDT