More Bad News About Plastic Bottles

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Ordinarily, concerns about leaching plastics are way down on my list of food safety worries (bacteria are #1), but the evidence against bisphenol A (BPA) continues to pile up. The latest report says that BPA adversely affects the immunity of the digestive system and causes inflammation. This, among other considerations, has led the National Institute of Environmental Sciences to invest $30 million to study it.

These and other concerns about its safety hazards have the plastics industry and its users in a tizzy and must also be paralyzing food safety regulators. The FDA has postponed the release of its report on the safety of BPA. The report was due out at the end of November but the FDA is not saying when it will be published. The FDA just says the report is coming soon. That's not good enough, say critics who say that the delay is raising questions about the FDA's credibility.

While all this is happening, United Nations' agencies are planning a summit on BPA safety to be held in Canada in--don't hold your breath--October 2010.

What to do? Avoidance seems prudent. BPA turns up in plastics coded with numbers 7 (the catchall category) and, sometimes, 3. Can't keep the numbers straight? Try glass?

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Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

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