Bisphenol A (BPA) Update

Pamela Schmutz
Home & Garden Information Center

Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in hard plastic bottles and metal food and beverage cans, has been in the news recently because of concerns that it could affect the health of babies and young children. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are testing the effects of exposure to BPA and expect to have results in the next 12 to 18 months.

BPA-free baby bottles are now easy to find in stores, so the concern is in using older bottles in the home. The Department of Health & Human Services has made these recommendations to reduce the exposure of babies to BPA:

  • Purchase BPA-free baby bottles and cups. These are now widely available and marked as BPA-free.
  • Do not use old, scratched, BPA-containing bottles for feeding babies.
  • Do not put boiling or very hot liquids into BPA-containing bottles or other plastic food containers. Boil water to be mixed with powdered formula in BPA-free containers and cool to lukewarm before filling bottles.
  • Allow bottles to cool down after being sterilized and cleaned and before adding infant formula.
  • Do not heat cans of infant formula on the stove or in boiling water. Ready-to-feed liquid formula can be served at room temperature or gently warmed in a nursing bottle by running warm water over the outside of the bottle.

The FDA is not recommending that families change the use of infant formula or foods, as the benefit of a stable source of good nutrition outweighs the potential risk from BPA exposure. For more information on reducing exposure to BPA, see Bisphenol A (BPA) Information for Parents (

Adults interested in minimizing their own exposure to BPA can do so by following these recommendations by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:

  • Check the recycle codes on the bottom of plastic food containers and bottles. In general, plastics that are marked with recycle codes 1, 2, 4, 5, or 6 are very unlikely to contain BPA. Some plastics that are marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.
  • Do not put hot or boiling liquids or foods in containers that may have BPA.
  • Discard food containers with scratches, as these may lead to greater release of BPA, and may also harbor germs.
  • Only put containers marked “dishwasher safe” in the dishwasher and only use “microwave safe” marked containers in the microwave.

For more information on food safety concerns for babies and pregnant women, see HGIC 3640, Food Safety for Pregnant Women & Their Babies.

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This information is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is implied. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may not apply to other areas. Use pesticides only according to the directions on the label. All recommendations for pesticide use are for South Carolina only and were legal at the time of publication, but the status of registration and use patterns are subject to change by action of state and federal regulatory agencies. Follow all directions, precautions and restrictions that are listed.