According to an article by the Associated Press released earlier this week, a government study has found traces of a chemical used in rocket fuel in samples of powdered baby formula, and those traces could exceed what’s considered a safe dose for adults if mixed with water also contaminated with the ingredient. Apparently the study, released last month by scientists at the U. S. centers for Disease Control and Prevention, looked for the chemical, perchlorate, in different brands of powdered baby formula. Also according to the article, the study was brought to the publics’ attention when a Washington based advocacy organization, The Environmental Working Group, issued a press release Thursday. The article goes on to point out that the study was not a study of health effects, so it is unknown how dangerous the product is or the risks involved.
Apparentely, the chemical has turned up in several cities drinking water supplies and that it can occur naturally and most perchlorate contamination has been tied to defense and aerospace sites. The EPA, however, does consider perchlorat exposure a serious issue and expects to announce a decision soon about future steps in dealing with the chemical. The article also noted that certain health authorities emphasize the formula is safe, one of whom is Curtis Stevens of the international Formula Counsel, which represent formula manufacturers. Surely consumers are and will be confused by the conflicting and unverifiable information regarding the risks of consumption of this chemical.
Here are some facts. According to the FDA’s interim health advisory, human exposure to high doses of perchlorate may disrupt how the thyroid gland functions. In adults, the thyroid plays an important role in metabolism by making and storing hormones that help regulate the heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and the rate at which food is converted into energy. In fetuses and infants, thyroid hormones are critical for normal growth and development of the central nervous system. Perchlorate can interfere with the human body’s ability to absorb and iodine into the thyroid gland which is a critical element in the production for thryroid hormone. So how are we the consumers supposed to react to the varying reports about the risks associated with this chemical?
Now there are a few ways to you could react to this situation: one way is from a purely over-exaggerated, inaccurate, sensational point of view, whereby you worry that that adults and babies will become deathly ill or suddenly combust from exposure to the chemical; another would be from a stance of blind faith, whereby you blindly believe that there probably is not much of a risk since some “health officials” say there are none; or you could view this news from a rational, proactive stance. Here at the Brod Law Firm, we hold the third point of view and think appropriate proactive measures should vary according to individual circumstances, and we realize that the severity of the danger depends on the size of a person and how much they have consumed. But with more and more products showing up on the FDA’s and EPA’s radar, it is hard not feel extremely alarmed. It is no wonder that consumer confidence is at an all-time low. It is clear that now, more than ever, we need food safety reform. We recommend consumers educate themselves and make their own judgments about the products they use and that they visit the FDA’s website as well as pro- consumer websites to find the latest recommendations and warnings regarding those products.