August 23, 2007

After BPA Blurb, Publicists Reach Out To "Headline Parenting" "Expert"

So while I didn't get on CBS yesterday, I did get a quote in the Washington Post's article about the latest developments in the whole Bisphenol A toxic plastic baby bottle controversy. [I guess that means I'm not TV-hot, only print-hot? Still hotter than radio-hot, though, right?]

Seems there's an NIH panel convened to assess the state of risks and research for BPA, and their preliminary findings ["some concern" of "behavioral and neurological effects."] were passed along to JPMA members in an email which was actually titled, "JPMA Supports Plastic Baby Bottles!" [yes, exclamation point in the original].

Anyway, so the comment they went with wasn't the one about how the reflexively self-serving JPMA and the government regulators they've stymied have seriously damaged credibility, especially after a recent string of long-simmering product recalls.

And it wasn't the one about how, hate to say it, but the small-scale production and higher cost of conscientiously produced gear like Born Free bottles relegates non-toxicity to a luxury; the reality is, most parents just don't have the time or the money, and will keep buying whatever's available at Wal-Mart.

It was the one about "headline parenting," i.e., freaking out and shifting your parenting gears in reaction to whatever overexcited press release comes across CNN's teleprompter today.

What scale of fame are we talking about here? Well, apparently famous enough to be a bullet point on the afternoon panel discussion at the annual convention of the Headline Parenting Publicists Association [HEAPPA], held this year at the St Louis Airport Radisson. As soon as the session ended, the go-getter attendees headed straight to the cyber-cafe [Sponsored by the Toy Industry Association] and fired off some attention-grabbing email alerts, about subjects torn right from today's headlines [or last week's, but still, nice hustle].

Or not. If you have a better explanation for why I received three nearly identical pitches from three totally different PR's, all within 30 minutes, I'm all ears.

Also, dude! The Washington Post! [which Rebel Dad is in like every week, I know.]

3:38PM From Vermont:

Subject: Shattering The American-Made Toy Myth
Who says you can’t find American-made toys anymore?

Recent recalls of Chinese-made toys has left parents and grandparents searching for alternatives. With confidence shaken in imported toys, it makes sense to try to buy American-made toys instead. However, the reality of the toy trade becomes quickly evident, approximately 80% of all toys sold in this country are made in China. This leads many to an assumption that they will not be able to find domestic alternatives.

3:48PM From a toy store specializing in wooden toys from Europe:
Subject: Finding Toys NOT Made in China

Hi Greg,

As the list of recalled toys grew last week, so did parents’ concerns over finding safe toys for their children. The fact that most of the brand name toys found on the shelves of US mass retailers are made in China leaves parents wondering what other options they have. Specialty shops selling high-quality European toys – required to adhere to the EU’s high safety standards- may be just the answer.

4:30PM, this one's online:
10 Lead-Free Toys Made In USA

Lead-Poisoned Toys Out…American Toys In
By Deborah Barrow, Founder, The Daily Green

News of the toxic trouble with Thomas The Train spread fast this week to include millions and millions of lead-laced toys manufactured in China and marketed by Mattel and other purveyors of so-called fun to the nation’s innocent young. The realization that something is terribly wrong with the lack of oversight in the way many of the nation’s toys are manufactured is dawning on us grown-ups. Parents are left to deal with two nightmares: poisonous paint in their kid’s mouth…and titanic tears when taking away a toddler’s favorite toy. Mean mommy!


So, time to restock the toy box with safer stuff. Here’s a way that helps American manufacturers and local specialty retailers at the very same time.

Buy USA-made toys.


On the toxic bottle thing (not your famousousity -- sorry!): I don't doubt that the bottles leech, and the Bisphenol A stuff is probably as horribly toxic as suspected. But, it sounds like the high dosage mentioned in the articles comes from infants who are drinking concentrated formula which sits on the shelf for however long in the plastic container it's sold in. Unless you make a bottle and then let it sit for a long time before feeding, the bottles themselves are probably a minor factor in exposure.

[ultimately, I think between that and worn bottle/plastic bowls , most of the leaching risk can be eliminated. The research should be lighting fire under researchers and regulators at this point, not parents. Which is the exact opposite of what's happening, of course. -ed.]

Don't know about walmart, I have found with 3 kids that on a damp day the best entertainment around is a patch of wet grass and matches....

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