By Chito Chavez
An environmental group asked the country’s health authorities to promulgate a long-overdue policy that should have protected babies from Bisphenol A, an industrial chemical used in hard plastic.
EcoWaste Coalition sounded the panic alarm citing that Bisphenol A has been linked to endocrine and reproductive disorders.
Through a letter delivered last week to the offices of Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director-General Nela Charade Puno, the EcoWaste Coalition stated that “BPA, an endocrine-disrupting and reprotoxic chemical, should not be present in children’s products, especially in food contact materials such as feeding bottles and sippy cups.”
The group noted that a draft DOH Administrative Order entitled the “Prohibition on the Manufacture, Importation, Advertisement, and Sale of Polycarbonate Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups Containing Bisphenol A in the Philippines” has been pending since 2013.
“The over-extended delay in promulgating the government’s policy on BPA in feeding bottles and sippy cups is very difficult to justify, especially when the products in question are typically used by a large sector of the society — the children — who are most vulnerable to the adverse health impacts of chemical exposures. We cannot delay action when it comes to children’s safety from chemicals of concern,” said Eileen Sison, President, EcoWaste Coalition.
The World Health Organization (WHO) noted “children are not little adults; they have special vulnerabilities to the toxic effects of chemicals. (Their) exposure to chemicals at critical stages in their physical and cognitive development may have severe long-term consequences for health.”
“DOH Secretaries Enrique Ona, Janette Loreto-Garin and Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial have come and gone, but the directive banning BPA in feeding bottles and sippy cups remains on the back burner since 2013,” added Sison.
“Under your watch, we hope the much-awaited regulation will see the light of day in the weeks to come,” she added.
At the first DOH-organized stakeholders’ consultation held in 2013, the EcoWaste Coalition and Arugaan (a breastfeeding advocacy group) pushed for a precautionary ban on BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups citing the regulatory moves in other countries to address growing consumers’ health and safety concerns against BPA
During the deliberations, the groups pushed for consumer right to information via uniform, visible and truthful product labels that will indicate if a product is BPA-free or not.
They also expressed support for the inclusion of a provision that will disallow the substitution of BPA with alternatives that can also lead to adverse health effects.
The Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition has been constantly pursuing the matter with the DOH and lately with the FDA via follow-up letters, including two petitions signed by over 70 concerned civil society organizations.
The plan of the South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety to ban BPA in food contact materials intended for infants and young children prompted the EcoWaste Coalition to write anew to the DOH and FDA on February 11, 2019 to check on the government’s response to the group’s appeal to prohibit BPA in baby feeding bottles and sippy cups.
To date, over 35 countries have already banned BPA, particularly in baby feeding bottles, including Brazil, Canada, China, India, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Africa, Thailand, USA and the 28-country European Union, with France banning BPA in all food contact materials in 2015. China, the country’s largest trading partner, banned BPA in baby feeding bottles as early as June 2011.
In January 2017, the European Chemical Agency added BPA to the candidate list of substances of very high concern (SVHCs) for authorization because it is “toxic for reproduction.” BPA’s inclusion to the said list was updated in January 2018 due to its “endocrine disrupting properties.”