/Making Plastic Parts Safe BPA Free and FDA Approved
In this article we will cover:
What is BPA free plastic?,
FDA approval for plastics, and
Making safe plastic containers and parts,
When you walk into any store these days to buy a water bottle, baby bottle, or baby food container, the package label is covered with bold statements of being “BPA Free”. So what is all the fuss about BPA and why is it something that manufacturers are advertising that their plastic products do not contain? If you are a manufacturer looking to package something in plastic, is BPA something that you need to worry about? Will it really make a difference in your sales if the packaging does, or does not, contain BPA?
BPA is a type of polycarbonate plastic, Bisphenol-A. BPA is used in many types of plastic bottles, such as baby sippy cups or water bottles, or in its epoxy resin form, as a coating on the inside of many food and beverage cans and containers. Since the 1950’s, BPA has been used in many areas of manufacturing for all types of plastic containers. In 1997 low doses of BPA were showing signs of adverse reactions in laboratory animal studies. Later studies linked small dose exposure of BPA with possible side effects during pregnancy and fetal development in humans. Studies are ongoing and no conclusive evidence has been agreed upon.
The current FDA stance in the U.S. is that BPA is not harmful and is still acceptable for continued use in manufacturing and packaging. But many companies in the U.S. have pulled BPA plastics from production and now market BPA free options of their products.
In 2010 The World Health Organization announced a study on the effects of low doses of BPA in human consumption and specifically on younger children. No new regulations have been proposed as they did not want to make any changes prematurely. Other countries throughout the world including Canada and Western Europe, have discontinued the use of BPA in plastic manufacturing, for food containers or packaging, completely. The debate is ongoing further scientific study and review.
So what is FDA approval and why would you need FDA approval for plastic parts and containers used in your products? The FDA has a set of guidelines and standards determined to be safe and acceptable for containers and packaging used for consumer food and baby products. These specifications include chemical composition, additives and properties of materials used in production of products and packaging. If the manufacturer incorporates and meets the specifications set out by the FDA, their products are considered to be “FDA Approved” for consumer use.
This stamp of approval by the FDA can be a great marketing tool. Many consumers look for FDA consumer safety labels when buying products for themselves and their families. The FDA approval can be used and displayed on packaging or in advertising. Large companies may also look for small parts or containers that are FDA approved to be used in their manufacturing and packaging process, so that their end product is government approved for consumer use and consumption.
The FDA does ongoing research and studies to stay abreast of new concerns in product safety to try and keep consumer products safe. Currently the FDA has not labeled BPA as being harmful for consumer use, or harmful in packaging of food containers and products for human consumption, but many consumers have made that decision on their own. Simply following FDA guidelines may not be enough for some manufacturers to be competitive in the marketplace. But it may be a good place to start. There are many variables when deciding what type of plastic to use in product packaging and containers. Besides color, shape and size, producers may want to look at consumer preference in material makeup and specific chemical properties in the plastics used for their products.