Public Citizen recently joined with other consumer and patient groups in a letter urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban phthalates from drugs and biologic products.
Phthalates are a family of chemicals known as “plasticizers” that are used in consumer and pharmaceutical products. For example, they are used to soften plastics – like those used in products such as baby teething rings and pacifiers. These chemicals, including dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), have been linked to cancer, as well as developmental and reproductive defects.
Phthalates are being phased out of consumer products – a 2008 federal law banned these phthalates in children’s products. The European Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency also have noted the health risks of the chemicals. The EPA said it is concerned about phthalates because of “their toxicity and the evidence of pervasive human and environmental exposure to these chemicals.”
Earlier this year, Newark Mayor Cory Booker excitedly announced the launch of a new partnership between Let’s Move! Newark and Nestlé to address the obesity problem facing the children of Newark.
Nestle's "health food" - flickr photo by Howard Lake
“This is an amazing day in the city of Newark!” Booker exclaimed. Amazing, indeed. It’s amazing that Newark is partnering with a giant candy bar and infant formula corporation to conquer health problems that the company itself plays a role in perpetuating. A press release announced that Nestlé had helped to devise a nutritional education curriculum for Newark families highlighting “the importance of breastfeeding, increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, healthy snacking, dealing with a fussy eater, portion control and physical activity.” The program draws on “the nutritional expertise of Gerber,” Nestlé’s infant formula brand.
But why would a company that depends for its profits on women not breastfeeding and families purchasing candy (not fruits and vegetables) be an ideal source of nutritional expertise?