Hong Kong food safety body questions BPA risks

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Bisphenol A is used as a raw material in a range of metal and plastic packaging
Bisphenol A is used as a raw material in a range of metal and plastic packaging

Related tags: Epidemiology, Bisphenol a, Health

Dietary exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) poses no significant threat to human health in Hong Kong, according to the city’s Centre for Food Safety (CFS).

The controversial food packaging chemical has faced fierce fire from consumer groups and researchers, who have raised concerns over its potential to contaminate food and its impact on health.

“Some epidemiological studies indicated that EDCs [endocrine disrupting chemicals, of which BPA is one] might have potential health concerns in relation to reproduction, development and neural and immune functions, and have been associated with different types of cancers,”​ said a CFS spokesman.

However, following a study examining a range of EDCs, he said: “According to overseas and local studies, dietary exposure of the general population to these seven groups of chemicals was below their representative health-based guidance values, e.g. tolerable daily intake. They were unlikely to cause adverse health effects to human beings.

Suitable follow-up actions

“To safeguard food safety and public health, the CFS will keep in view the latest international risk assessments and management options on potential EDCs in food, and take suitable follow-up actions where appropriate.”

The spokesman urged food firms to ensure food on sale complies with relevant regulations and was fit for human consumption to minimise dietary exposure to EDCs.

“The public should maintain a balanced and varied diet so as to attain good health and avoid excessive exposure to contaminants from a small range of food items, such as seafood, especially bivalves, as they generally contain higher levels of environmental contaminants such as EDCs and metallic contaminants,”​ he said.

Reliable suppliers

He encouraged the public to buy food and food contact materials from reliable suppliers and said they should follow manufacturers’ instructions on the suitability of the material for microwaving or holding hot food.

The CFS meta-analysis examined literature covering seven different EDCs, which had been identified as priorities for review by the European Union. They were: organochlorine pesticides; dioxins and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls; BPA, which among other things is used in coatings for can linings; styrene; phthalates, which improve flexibility and durability of plastics; organotins; nonylphenol.

EDCs can be naturally occurring or man-made chemicals that interfere with hormone production and hence the proper functioning of body organs and tissues.

A copy of the CFS report can be found here.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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