BCF challenges French restrictions on BPA-based materials in food packaging

03 February 2015

The British Coatings Federation (BCF) has joined other associations in calling for the European Commission to take action, now that the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) has completed the latest comprehensive exposure assessment on Bisphenol A (BPA). France introduced legislation on 1 January 2015 which suspended the use of BPA-based materials for packaging products intended to come into direct contact with food. The EFSA report reaffirms the global scientific opinion that BPA poses no health risk to consumers of any age group, because the current exposure to the chemical is too low to cause harm.

BPA is an essential base chemical used in the manufacture of materials (epoxy resins) that are subsequently used for protective coatings and inks used in flexible and rigid (metal can) packaging. Epoxy resins have been used safely for food contact applications for over 50 years, and are the premium coating technology that ensures product integrity in food cans, ensuring that canned foods remain fit for human consumption throughout their long shelf life. Several key membership sectors at the BCF have been seriously affected by the unilateral French legislation.

The BCF is a joint signatory, along with the Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association, the Food and Drink Federation and the British Plastics Federation, to a letter that was sent in late January to all the key UK government departments, including the Food Standards Agency and Defra. This states the opinion that the restriction introduced by France will not lead to any increase in consumer safety, and instead will cost the supply chain, associated with food contact products into France, EUR 1.5 billion.

EFSA’s 2015 risk assessment of BPA involved a full hazard assessment and risk characterisation of the chemical, and was based on the latest toxicological information available, which includes significantly improved data and refined methods to assess risk compared with the previous study (2006). It also covered specific population groups that may be more susceptible, such as infants and women of child-bearing age. EFSA’s main conclusion was that dietary exposure to BPA is between 4 – 15 times lower than was previously estimated, leading to their overall conclusion that ‘BPA poses no health risk to consumers of any age group at current exposure levels’. As a result of their study, they have recommended a reduction in the temporary Tolerable Dietary Intake (t-TDI), which will be taken into account when the US complete their current evaluation, addressing remaining uncertainties with regard to BPA.

Tom Bowtell, BCF’s Chief Executive commented "This unilateral ban in France highlights the need for any restrictions on the use of chemical substances to be based on sound scientific evidence. It is a primary objective of the BCF to maximise consumer safety from chemicals which may be used in inks or coatings being applied to food packaging, and the BCF has a long history of being pro-active in this regard.”

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