MEPs back lower limits and not ban of BPA

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

EFSA's re-evaluation of BPA starts this year. Picture: iStock/splendens
EFSA's re-evaluation of BPA starts this year. Picture: iStock/splendens

Related tags European parliament European union European commission

A decision by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to lower and not ban bisphenol A (BPA) in food packaging has been called ‘regrettable’ and a ‘missed opportunity’ by health groups.

The European Commission proposal to regulate BPA in food contact materials will lower the migration limit of the chemical in coatings and varnishes used in packaging.

The European Parliament Environment Committee (ENVI) approved the legislation and rejected a notion for objection put forward by  members of different political parties.

A specific migration limit (SML) of 0.05 mg/kg food for BPA migrating from varnishes or coatings applies to materials or articles intended for food contact. Current levels allow an SML of 0.6 mg of BPA per kg of food (mg/kg).

No migration will be permitted from varnishes or coatings used to manufacture packaging for infants and young children 0-3 years.

The Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament called the decision a ‘missed opportunity’ and PAN Europe said it was ‘regrettable’.

HEAL: Decision will ‘mainly benefit’ chemical industry

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) said it fails to protect citizens’ health and will ‘mainly benefit’ the chemical industry.

Natacha Cingotti, HEAL’s policy officer on health and chemicals, said it has long demanded a full ban.

“The adverse health effects of BPA, even at low doses, are so well documented that it should already have been banned from all consumer products a long time ago – citizens shouldn’t have to worry that their food wrapper or packing contains BPA and might seep into their food and harm their health. 

European politicians are failing in their responsibility to protect people’s health and to act on their earlier commitments, although safer alternatives are available and some governments such as France and industry retailers are already on the path to substitution. 

It’s not only dangerous but also incoherent - we should be getting the toxics out of the economy if we want it to be truly circular.”

Member States action

The Basque consumer co-operative Eroski does not use BPA in its own-branded products.

Danish Coop banned it and other bisphenols in June 2016 replacing them with epoxy lacquer in cans in co-operation with the Danish packaging industry association and Finnish consumer co-operative SOK is in the process of replacing all own-brand packaging materials containing BPA with complete substitution sometime this year.

Belgium has a national ban in FCMs for infants and young children; Sweden in coatings and varnishes for FCMs for infants and young children and France in food packaging, containers and utensils.

However, while it is prohibited to export BPA in food packaging to France it is legal for French companies to manufacture and export to the EU.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is re-evaluating the substance after giving it the all clear in 2015.

Data from the US-based Consortium Linking Academic and Regulatory Insights on BPA Toxicity (CLARITY-BPA) study is also expected to be available soon.

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