Packaging and drinks industry dismiss calls to ban bisphenol A

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Red bull, Bisphenol a

Minute levels of bisphenol A detected in drink cans pose no health risk to consumers, said beverage companies and a leading industry body as they rejected calls from an environmental group to ban the chemical.

The Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association (MPMA) said the report by BUND, the German arm of Friends of the Earth, actually underlined the safety of the packaging as consumers would have to drink thousands of cans every day to exceed the established tolerable daily intake (TDI) level for BPA. Drinks giants such as Coca-Cola and Red Bull also stressed that their containers and beverages were safe.

The industry response came after BUND released the results of tests showing BPA was found in both the epoxy linings of cans, as well some drinks, made by the likes of Coca-Cola, Red Bull and Nestle. After analysing 11 drinks, BPA levels per tin ranged from 0.3 micrograms (µg) to 8.3µg. Traces of the substance were found in five drinks up to a level of 3.9µg per litre, said the group.

BUND acknowledged the levels were not harmful in themselves but nevertheless called for a ban on the chemical as consumption of canned drinks would add to consumers’ cumulative exposure to BPA.

An absurdity

But the packaging and drinks industry has strongly refuted both BUND’s findings and their conclusions.

“The report of BUND on their analysis of BPA in canned beverage products, serves only to confirm the safety of epoxy based linings for beverage cans on the basis of the very low migration figures obtained – orders of magnitude below levels considered safe by health authorities around the world”, ​MPMA technical manager David Smith told FoodProductionDaily.com.

He added that taking the TDI of 0.05 mg/kg bodyweight/day set by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2007, and the highest migration figure of 3.9µg, a consumer of 60kg bodyweight would need to consume more than 1500 x 50cl cans or 2300 x 33cl cans per day for life of that product to reach the TDI.

“This is clearly an absurdity,”​ said Smith.

A spokesman for Coca-Cola said the levels detected in its Sprite drink were "many thousands of times below the TDI set by EFSA" ​and that a person would have to drink 30,000 cans a day of the drink at 3.0µg to reach this threshold.

Red Bull challenged the results, claiming the laboratory used by the group was “not accredited for this type of analysis.”​ The company said it had first commissioned analyses from an “internationally renowned and accredited laboratory”​ on BPA levels a few years ago and continued to receive regular updates.

“The results at hand confirm that BPA from the containers used by us cannot be detected in the simulants which have to be investigated in accordance with applicable food regulations,”​ said a Red Bull spokeswoman.

The industry players and packaging association all stressed that BPA has been approved for use in food contact materials by a raft of global food regulatory bodies including those in Europe, the United States, Japan and Australasia.

The MPMA said the sector had given every support to regulatory bodies and that safety of their products was a prime concern.

Smith said: “In view of the proven insignificance of migration from metal packaging as shown in the BUND report, it would be irresponsible for any type of ban to be implemented or supported, as is creating wholly unnecessary consumer concerns.”

Related topics: Regulation & Safety, Soft Drinks & Water

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