EU Proposes Phasing Out Bisphenol A: Health Concerns

The European Commission's draft proposal to phase out Bisphenol A in food contact materials due to health risks. Public consultation open until March 9th.

EU Proposes Phasing Out Bisphenol A: Health Concerns

The European Commission launched a consultation on a draft proposal to phase out the use of the controversial chemical Bisphenol A in food contact materials, including plastic boxes, protective coatings for cans, and food processing equipment.

The proposal follows the scientific advice of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which concluded in April 2023 that the current levels of exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) pose a health risk to consumers.

EFSA set a tolerable daily intake (TDI) – the amount of a substance in food deemed safe for people – at 0.2 nanograms per kilogram (ng/kg) of body weight, which is 20,000 times lower than the provisional TDI of 4 μg/kg (or 4,000 ng/kg) of body weight recommended in its previous opinion (2015).

The public consultation started on 8 February and is open until 9 March. The Commission will then present a legislative proposal for approval by member states.

The proposed ban on the substance, which has been widely used since the 1960s, will apply to food and drink cans, kitchen utensils, tableware, and food contact articles used in professional food production, the bloc’s executive stressed in a press release.

Since the late 1990s, Bisphenol A has been suspected of causing adverse health effects by migrating into food.

Since 2011, the EU has banned its use in polycarbonate baby bottles, in 2016 it banned its use in thermal receipt paper, and in 2018 it introduced further restrictions on its use in drinking bottles and containers for babies and children, paints and coatings.

Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, and France have introduced further restrictions on BPA products.

Following EFSA’s lead, the EU’s Environment Agency sounded the alarm on bisphenol A in September 2023, saying public exposure to the chemical is “well above” acceptable safety levels due to its use in plastic and metal food containers, reusable bottles, and drinking water pipes.

Bisphenol A has been a chemical of “special concern” for decades, with no scientific consensus on its safety. EU and national regulators are no exception.

BPA is one of the three bisphenols identified by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) as an endocrine disruptor and a “substance of very high concern”.

EFSA published its scientific opinion on 19 April 2023. In response, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) published a report on the same day highlighting the “divergent opinion” with EFSA’s conclusions on the revision of the TDI, as “the agencies make use of different assessment tools”.

According to a scientific opinion from the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), “EFSA lowered the TDI primarily based on observations in studies in mice” and “the relevance of the results to human health is questionable”.


Keywords

European Commission , Bisphenol A , food contact materials , health risk , public consultation

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