The Cancer Association of South Africa (Cansa) has started endorsing plastic baby bottles as free of cancer-causing chemicals,
after its research found that many bottles in South Africa were unsafe, it said.
Cansa spokeswoman Lucy Balona said some baby bottles now carried a Cansa seal to help South African consumers identify safe products for their babies.
"We play an important watchdog role for South Africans by advocating safe products that reduce their cancer risk and join hands with partners that take the responsibility of South Africans' health seriously."
Head of Cansa research, Dr Carl Albrecht, delivered findings that reinforced the belief that certain chemicals found in plastic bottles, such as hormonally active Bisphenol-A (BPA), were unsafe as they potentially caused cancer as well as other serious health problems.
Study finds BPA 'unsafe'
Cansa conducted research over three years to study scientific evidence that was for and against BPA, and concluded BPA was unsafe especially in susceptible groups like babies and children. BPA was also harmful to adults.
Babies and children were most vulnerable as their brains were still developing and their bodies lacked enzymes that normally
inactived BPA. They also ate 10 times more than adults per day, according to body weight, which exposed more opportunities to encounter possible chemicals transferred to foods.
Albrecht said some polycarbonate bottles and cups containing BPA migrated into fluids like milk, especially when the bottle was
heated or microwaved. Exposure to boiling water or heat released up to 55 times more BPA.
As a result of the findings, Cansa wanted all BPA-containing products to be banned and for BPA-free alternatives to be found for
baby drinking bottles, as well as in tin can lining and outdoor water bottles.
Internationally, some countries have also responded to research highlighting dangerous man-made chemicals in baby products.
In April 2008, Canada became the first country in the world to ban BPA from baby bottles. In July this year Denmark banned bottles
containing BPA as they believed it could inhibit the learning capacity in children. Just last month, some American states banned
baby bottles, sippy cups, pacifiers and straws with BPA.
The Food and Drug Administration in the United States, as well as the European Food Safety Authority, were set to respond at the
end of November on findings by President Barack Obama's cancer panel that BPA was a chemical of concern.
Currently, NUK baby bottles and bottle accessories in South Africa were endorsed by Cansa as being BPA-free. In return for the endorsement, Cansa received less than 1% of the cost price of endorsed products, which is used for further research in that area.
Other baby bottle brands in the country had BPA-free products but none carried the Cansa endorsement yet. Cansa was in discussions with these companies to increase awareness by carrying the endorsement.
Parents could check if bottles contained BPA by looking underneath the bottle for a number seven in a triangle with the letters PC, which stands for polycarbonate. - (Sapa, August 2010)