The Maine Board of Environmental Protection held their final discussions this morning on the citizen-initiated proposal to replace the chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA, in infant formula, baby food and toddler food packaging with safer alternatives. The Board decided unanimously to support the phase-out in infant formula and baby food packaging, but felt that legal definitions and loopholes prevented them from going further.
“We are very pleased with the Board’s decision to follow the science and protect Maine babies from BPA in their food,” said Emily Figdor, Director of Environment Maine. “The evidence for action on BPA is crystal clear – BPA harms children; food is major source of exposure to BPA; and safer alternatives are available and affordable. No parent should have to worry about exposing their children to toxic BPA at the dinner table.”
Dozens of Maine moms, doctors, and public health advocates attended the meeting to show their support for the proposal. Many were part of the citizen-initiated effort to bring this proposal before the Board. In June 2012, almost 900 registered Maine voters, as well as medical and public health organizations, petitioned the Board. Today’s decision came after seven months of public hearings, scientific presentations, and technical analysis on the proposal.
“Maine kids and sound science came out on top today,” said Steve Taylor, Program Manager for the Environmental Health Strategy Center. “The Board members clearly understand that BPA is poisoning Maine children and needs to be removed from their food as soon as possible. They seemed frustrated that they could not address BPA in food packaging that exposes older children and babies in the womb. We hope the Maine Legislature will act quickly on the Board’s concerns and close the loopholes that prevent BPA-free food for everyone.”
Young children are exposed to BPA when the chemical leaks from the inner lining of canned foods, including infant formula, and the metal lids of glass jars, including baby food. State and federal health agencies are concerned that BPA will harm brain development, cause behavior problems and adversely affect the prostate. BPA is a known hormone disruptor that has also been linked to cancer, obesity, and diabetes.
“We greatly appreciate the time and careful consideration the Board has given to this important issue,” said Megan Rice, a mother of two from the town of China. “They really stood up for Maine kids today by refusing to be swayed by chemical industry denial and delay tactics. The science on BPA is clear and damning. It puts our kids’ health at risk while safer alternatives are readily available. We need to be doing everything we can to get BPA out of all food packaging.”
The Board’s decision will be documented in a “basis statement” of supporting evidence. The Board will then take a final vote to adopt the rule and basis statement on January 24th. The Maine Legislature will review and authorize the Board’s final adoption during the legislative session.
“We are heartened by the decision the Board made today to protect babies from BPA,” said Abby King, Toxics Policy Advocate for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “The Board’s decision puts Maine on the path to becoming a safer place for our children. We look forward to the day when the Legislature eliminates the arbitrary restrictions that prevent the Board from doing more to protect toddlers and pregnant mothers from toxic chemicals.”