EU bans BPA in packaging for 0-3 year olds

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

©iStock/FamVeld. The move expands the ban from just polycarbonate infant feeding bottles
©iStock/FamVeld. The move expands the ban from just polycarbonate infant feeding bottles

Related tags: Food contact materials, European union, Bpa

The European Commission has tightened the rules around bisphenol A (BPA) by banning it in the manufacture of packaging for infants and young children 0-3 years.

Regulation should be adopted early next year and after the transitional period of six months products placed on the market can remain until exhaustion of stocks.

Member States' experts endorsed the measure which Denmark has had since 2010.

The substance already cannot be used in the manufacture of polycarbonate infant feeding bottles.

Further BPA restrictions

BPA will not be able to be used to manufacture plastic sippy cups and bottles for infants and young children 0-3 years. There is also a ban on migration of the substance from varnishes and coatings applied on food contact materials used for infant formula, follow-on formula, processed cereal-based food, baby food, food for special medical purposes or milk-based drinks.

The move sets a stricter limit for the amount allowed to migrate from all plastic food contact materials into food and varnishes and coatings (e.g. inside food cans).

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).

Belgium has a national ban on BPA in food contact materials for infants and young children; Sweden has a ban only in coatings and varnishes for food contact materials for infants and young children and France banned BPA in all 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 it to the EU.

The European Commission ran a comment period on the draft regulation concerning BPA limits.

Chem Trust said there should be a ban on all food contact uses of BPA and DG SANTE must also address other bisphenols.

The group said it also exposes the lack of focus on substitution in EU’s laws for regulating chemicals in food contact materials.

“[There] should be ban on BPA in all food contact materials, not just a ban on migration from coatings ‘applied to materials and articles specifically intended to come into contact with infant formula, follow-on formula, processed cereal-based food, baby food or food for special medical purposes developed to satisfy the nutritional requirements of infants and young children’.”

Members have adopted chemical policies

Euro Coop (the European Community of Consumer Co-operatives) gave the views from different co-operative retailers in Europe.

“[The] Basque consumer co-operative Eroski does not use BPA in any of its own-branded products, the Swedish Coop has eliminated the use of BPA in receipts and the Danish Coop has banned BPA and other bisphenols in June 2016, replacing them with epoxy lacquer in cans in co-operation with the Danish packaging industry association.

“As far as the Finnish consumer co-operative SOK is concerned, it is in the process of replacing all own-brand packaging materials containing BPA: the complete substitution will be finalised by 2018.”

Euro Coop said it is essential that plastics and coatings and varnishes for metal packaging are addressed first because of widespread use in the EU market.

“Euro Coop deems that the final goal should be for the European Commission to come up with a full-fledged BPA policy which puts environment and consumers’ interests at its core and ultimately phase out not only BPA but all bisphenols, given the likelihood for those to have similar hormone disrupting effects.”

IFST wants review to monitor unintended consequences

The Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST) welcomed the setting of an evidence-based SML.

“We are less comfortable with the ‘zero tolerance’ limit as an SML of BPA from infant food packaging. This is impossible to prove, and can lead to inconsistencies based upon different laboratory detection limits.

“For the sake of consistency, and consistency with existing legislation, it would be preferable to ban BPA from this use in infant food packaging.”

IFST added there should be a post-implementation review to monitor unintended consequences such as whether it drives substitution of BPA with BPS, or another replacement which may have equivalent toxicological concerns.

CEPE, Metal Packaging Europe, FoodDrinkEurope, Frucom and PlasticsEurope agreed that plastics and coatings and varnishes for metal packaging should be addressed first.

“It is necessary to ensure that the high level of protection for consumers is maintained in a harmonised way. Disproportionate unilateral legislative initiatives by Member States should be avoided.

“For industry it is of the highest priority that the distortion of the single market is re-solved by introducing harmonised proportionate risk management measures.”

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has evaluated the substance numerous times saying in 2015 that it poses no health risk.

A temporary Tolerable Daily Intake (t-TDI) of 4 μg/kg bw per day was set pending a toxicity study in rodents by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Results are expected soon.

Toxicity of BPA will be re-evaluated in 2018 by the Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids (CEF) panel.

The review will include other relevant studies published since the December 2012 cut-off point for the last review.

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