Readers of our recent announcement on polycarbonate baby bottles may recall that we took the JPMA to task for their "happy go lucky" spin on the recent federal report on the safety of the bottles. As you recall, the feds said there is "some concern that exposure to bisphenol A causes neural and behavioral effects" in  fetuses, infants and children. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a key ingredient in polycarbonate bottles—the BPA can leach from bottles into the liquid from repeated washing/heating/sterilizing.

The JPMA’s response was that this "some concern" was nothing to worry about—and this meant a clean bill of health for polycarbonate bottles! Really, don’t worry. Be happy.

So, it’s no surprise that the JPMA sent us a letter to point out our error in pulling our previous recommendation for polycarbonate baby bottles.

Here’s the letter:

August 16, 2007

Dear Denise and Alan Fields,

Your opinion and recommendation to parents regarding plastic baby bottles appears to be based on the erroneous interpretation of the most recent scientific conclusions.  It directly contradicts the opinions of regulators around the world who specifically looked at bisphenol A (BPA) science and concluded that there is no reason for parents to be concerned about use of plastic baby bottles.  In fact, in its most recent letter (July 31, 2007) sent to Fit Pregnancy magazine the FDA – the top health and medical authority in the United States – concludes:

…FDA has confidence that no safety concerns exists for BPA in regulated food contact materials.  Furthermore, FDA has determined that the polycarbonate-based baby bottles and BPA-based epoxy coated cans used to hold infant formula is safe.

The panel of scientists organized by the Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (CERHR), after thorough review and evaluation of all available scientific data, found little reason for concern. 

Moreover, there is overwhelming scientific evidence backing the safety of plastic baby bottles.  Definitive studies and scientific reviews supporting the safety of polycarbonate plastic have been conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Harvard University, the National Toxicology Program, the European Food Safety Authority, the German Federal Institute for Risk Analysis, and the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.

This is why Born Free, which you promote as an alternative to polycarbonate plastic baby bottles, was by the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau to discontinue its advertising campaign claiming polycarbonate plastic baby bottles were unsafe: Download born_free_ruling.pdf

We kindly ask you to consider a revision to your position.  We are willing and able to provide you with scientific studies and/or access to experts who can help you sort through the facts.  There is a great deal of information on this subject and not all of it is sound.  One of my organization’s goals is to educate parents on the safe selection and use of children’s products, such as plastic baby bottles.  With so much for parents to be legitimately concerned with, it is disheartening to see the spread of misleading information.  Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions about this matter.


Mike Dwyer
Executive Director
Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association
[email protected]

Our response:  We did an exhaustive review of the scientific literature on BPA before issuing our recommendations—that included reviewing studies that showed BPA concerns . . . and those that didn’t. We also consulted with experts on pediatric environmental issues to help us sort out the risks. Of course, we’d be more than happy to see the JPMA’s best evidence that says the bottles are safe. So we’ll await their response.

Meanwhile, in a short while, we’ll blog a look behind the curtain at the JPMA—how does an organization that promotes a goal of "educating parents on the safe selection and use of children’s products" spend its time and money  lobbying the government on children’s product safety issues? (Spoiler alert: guess who furiously lobbied against a recent California bill to ban BPA in baby bottles? Hint: the JPMA). So stay tuned.