Chemical Watch reports that The European Commission is considering whether to propose a specific migration limit (SML) for bisphenol A in food contact materials (FCMs).
But it believes a ban is unnecessary because the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) says the levels consumers are exposed to are well below the recommended safety threshold.
It is taking the step in response to the adoption, by some member states, of bans on the use of BPA in certain FCMs.
Denmark and Belgium have introduced national bans on its use in FCMs for infants and young children; Sweden has introduced a ban in coatings and varnishes for FCMs for infants and young children; and France has banned it in all food packaging, containers and utensils (CW 18 September 2015).
According to a “roadmap” document, issued by the Commission food safety directorate, DG Sante, last Friday, these national laws have made companies uncertain of which products, that use and contain BPA, can be placed on the market, since they are different from the rules set at EU level.
FCM manufacturers are investigating alternatives, says the roadmap, with trials ongoing for 90% of those packed food products for which BPA is used in FCMs. But the national laws have not allowed FCM manufacturers enough time to complete their testing and evaluation programmes.
The EU food contact materials Regulation requires the Commission to decide, following an opinion from Efsa, whether such national measures are necessary and whether it will support or decline them.
Last January, Efsa significantly lowered its tolerable daily intake (TDI) level for BPA from 50 to 4 micrograms per kilogram of bodyweight, after taking into account non-dietary sources of exposure (CW 22 January 2015). A new SML is therefore warranted on the basis of the new TDI.
In the FCMs sector, BPA, says the roadmap, is mainly used in polycarbonate water coolers and chocolate moulds, and in epoxy resin in coatings for metal food and beverage cans, jar or bottle caps. It can also be present in printing inks, adhesives and recycled paper or board.
The roadmap says tightening the SML for BPA in plastic FCMs would give producers of such materials one harmonised set of rules. It would also be easy for them to comply with because migration levels are well below the current SML. Introducing such for FCM coatings and varnishes would have similar benefits and also be possible to comply with.
However, an SML for paper and board, which acquires BPA from the recycling of thermal paper, would probably increase costs and cause difficulties in the supply chain for industry because there are large variations in levels in paper.