Regulator confirms safety of BPA for use in food packaging

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

International food safety experts have concluded that the human body rapidly metabolises and eliminates Biphensol A (BPA) and thus the substance presents no risk to adults, children or infants.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said that, as a result of the assessment, the Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) of 0.05 milligram/kg body weight per day it had set following its previous BPA assessment remains valid.

The regulator claims this TDI provides a sufficient margin of safety for the protection of the consumer, including foetuses and newborns.

EFSA's findings are significant for the many packaging companies that use BPA when manufacturing polycarbonates for water bottles, canned soups, drinks and baby food bottles as some previous animal studies had indicated that exposure to high levels of BPA could be carcinogenic, causing alarm among consumers.

Can makers

The European trade association, Beverage Can Makers Europe (BCME), said its members remain confident in the consumer safety of coatings made using BPA-based resins as a result of the conclusions drawn by EFSA and independent expert members of the scientific community.

BCME said its members, together with the metal food packaging industry supply chain, continue to monitor and evaluate all reports on the safety of the materials used to make their products.

Research

EFSA's scientific panel on Food Additives, Flavourings, Processing Aids and Materials in Contact with Food (AFC) said it took into consideration the previous and most recent research on BPA.

The EFSA said its Panel took into account the findings of a report issued last month by the European Chemicals Bureau (ECB), a study by the US National Toxicology Program as well as the Canadian government's recent Draft Screening Assessment on BPA.

ECB's Karin Aschberger told FoodProductionDaily.com at the time that the bureau found the margin of safety was high enough in relation to consumer exposure of BPA in packaging and so there was no need for further information, testing or risk reduction measures beyond those already being applied.

Baby bottles

A research group based at the Netherlands research centre, TNO, recently concluded that the levels of migration of BPA into water from polycarbonate when exposed to microwave heating were well below the specific limit of 0.6 mg/kg bw per day specified for BPA in the Commission Directive 2004/19/EC.

The TNO researchers said that their study, published in May in the journal Food Additives and Contaminants, ​showed that the migration of BPA into water ranged from 0.1 to 0.7 µg per litre.

US review

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced last month that a subcommittee of its Science Board will hold a public meeting on the safety of BPA in plastics, review an Agency Task Force report on the topic, and deliver its findings to the Board's annual meeting in the autumn.

The FDA formed an agency-wide BPA Task Force in April to facilitate a review of current research and new information on BPA.

The establishment of the task force followed the NTP report, which found that there was evidence that BPA could induce cancer in humans at current exposure levels, although it stressed at the time that "more research is needed".

The report prompted calls from senior US politicians for rapid action from the FDA, which previously had cleared BPA for use in food packaging.

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