Sunday, July 04, 2010

CA: Assembly passes bill banning BPA in baby bottles

This will give the attention seekers a warm inner glow but there is no science in it. It's the medical version of global warming -- an increasingly worldwide obsession with a non-existent danger

The state Assembly passed a bill Thursday to ban the chemical Bisphenol-A from baby bottles and other items that come in contact with small children.

The Toxin-Free Toddlers and Babies Act, or SB 797, would ban the use of BPA in feeding products, including formula, for children 3 years old and younger.

BPA has been linked with health problems such as infertility, autism, asthma, hyperactivity and breast cancer. In January, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reversed its long-held position that BPA posed no concern, calling for more studies of the artificial hormone that often is used in shatter-proof plastic baby bottles, sippy cups and linings of cans, including those containing baby formula.

Written by Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), SB 797 was introduced in early 2009, but was defeated in the Assembly last September. Pavley asked for reconsideration and on Thursday the measure received enough votes to pass. It will return to the Senate for a reconciliation vote in August, at which point it could move on to Gov. Schwarzenegger for his signature. A spokesman for the governor said Thursday that Schwarzenegger had not taken a position on the bill.

Tim Shestek, senior director of state affairs for the American Chemistry Council, said his group continues to oppose the measure. "We don't believe that the Legislature … should be in the business of making decisions on these complex scientific questions," he said. "That's why they created the Green Chemistry Initiative, so state scientists can evaluate chemicals in consumer products."

The Green Chemistry Initiative was a bill that passed the California Legislature in September 2008. It required the California Department of Toxic Substances Control to prioritize chemicals of concern and to put the burden of chemical testing on that agency, not industry.

"Sen. Pavley is supportive of the Green Chemistry Initiative and we look forward to having a process in place so that we can evaluate chemicals of concern, but it's not up and running and we don't know when it will be," said Sen. Pavley's legislative director, Elise Thurau. "This bill is integrated with the green chemistry process."

If passed, SB 797 would require the manufacturers of baby bottles, cups and jars to discontinue use of BPA by January 2012. Makers of infant formula would need to comply by July 2012.


Big Brother row as 'food police' secretly photograph British schoolchildren's packed lunches

Teachers have used 'Big Brother' tactics to spy on children's lunchboxes, it has been revealed. They secretly photographed pupils' packed lunches over six months and analysed the contents.

Staff awarded marks to the food and then showed their findings to outraged parents, offering them advice on how to improve nutrition. Education bosses have now put a stop to the scheme in Gloucestershire after discovering the extent of the surveillance.

Nineteen primary schools have been using the 'packed lunch toolkit', which was devised by Gloucestershire county council and NHS Gloucestershire. Contents were taken out of a random sample of lunchboxes and then photographs taken.

Staff rated the contents against set nutritional standards. They looked for high fat, salt and sugary foods as well as fruit and vegetables. Once the data was collected, a baseline score for the school was calculated. The scheme was devised by the council's healthy schools team but had not been signed off by councillors.

Councillor Jackie Hall, the council's cabinet member for schools, who is also a mother, said she did not know about the scheme. 'I applaud the concept of healthy eating and working with pupils and parents,' she said. 'However, this is a step too far and smacks of Big Brother.'

Among the schools taking part was St Paul's Primary School in Gloucester. Parent Sharon Billingham said she packs healthy lunches for her son Callum, seven. However, she felt the lunch toolkit was a breach of privacy. She said: 'I guess if we were given notice that it was happening then that would be OK but I haven't heard anything.'

But Yvette Gayle, whose nine-year-old daughter Renee Dougan attends the school, said she didn't mind. 'It might encourage parents to pack a healthier lunch for their kids anyway,' she said.

Cheryl Ridler, an education co-ordinator at the school, said the scheme has led to 'a definite improvement in the quality of food' brought in. 'All the parents were very positive about it and we did it in a very nice and careful way, and in no way demanding and intrusive,' she added.

However, Margaret Morrissey, of family pressure group Parent OutLoud, condemned the scheme as 'despicable' and 'unforgiveable'. 'It's Big Brother gone absolutely mad and if it were my child, I'd sue the school,' she said.

Health chiefs have insisted that it was a way of monitoring healthy eating. Gloucestershire NHS director of public health Dr Shona Arora said: 'Childhood obesity is a serious concern. 'Parents are perfectly placed to use their judgment and they are the most important people in helping their children to achieve a balanced diet.'

A Gloucestershire council spokesman refused to disclose its healthy schools budget, which is shared with NHS Gloucestershire. The audit was one of dozens of projects and cost only the time taken to draw up the toolkit, she added.


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