Only two months ago, the FDA rejected notions that bisphenol A (BPA) poses any threat to our health: The agency dismissed yet another activist petition to ban or restrict the ubiquitous chemical used to harden clear plastics in food packaging. Yet that hasn t stopped chemophobic groups from continuing to scare the public about the estrogen-mimicking effects of BPA.
Sadly, their efforts seem to be somewhat successful: A recent nonpartisan survey by EcoFocus of more than 4,000 consumers found that 37 percent were extremely or very concerned about the possible health and safety effects of plastics used in food packaging and bottles.
This plastic phobia can only be explained by a psychiatrist, ACSH s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan quips. But the hysteria over plastic has turned into somewhat of a boon for manufacturers of alternative products, some of whom are now actually switching to glass. That's because anti-chemical activist groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council continually warn consumers that the chemicals used in plastic packaging are leaching into the products they eat and drink, thus leading manufacturers to try to assuage these baseless fears. For instance, Coca-Cola has already expanded its line of glass-bottled products, and now S.C. Johnson is selling reusable Ziploc containers called VersaGlass.
A desire by consumers to avoid using plastic packaging has led to the invention of other glass-type products as well. Take for instance Pure glass bottles. Invented by scientist turned entrepreneur Walt Himelstein, these bottles are shatter proof thanks to a special exterior coating that prevents the broken glass from escaping.
But as ACSH advisor Dr. Chic Schissel astutely observes, Aren't all the fillers, coatings, etc. used in these improved glass bottles made of plastic?
Despite the overwhelming body of scientific evidence demonstrating the safety of BPA, which has been in use for decades, activists and the media are still all about the anti-chemical hype, says ACSH s Dr. Ross. These news articles neglect to point out that BPA is found in quantities of parts per billion an amount so infinitesimal as to have no health effect whatsoever.