EUROPE – The European Commission has initiated a consultation on a preliminary proposal to phase out the utilization of the contentious chemical Bisphenol A in food contact materials, encompassing plastic containers, protective coatings for cans, and food processing equipment.

The proposal stems from the scientific counsel of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which determined in April 2023 that the current levels of exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) present a health hazard to consumers.

EFSA established a tolerable daily intake (TDI) – the quantity of a substance in food regarded as safe for individuals – at 0.2 nanograms per kilogram (ng/kg) of body weight, which is 20,000 times lower than the provisional TDI of 4 μg/kg (or 4,000 ng/kg) of body weight advised in its previous assessment (2015).

The public consultation commenced on 8 February and remains open until 9 March. Subsequently, the Commission will introduce a legislative proposal for endorsement by member states.

The proposed prohibition of the compound, which has been extensively utilized since the 1960s, will be applicable to food and beverage cans, kitchen implements, tableware, and food-contact items utilized in professional food preparation, emphasized the executive of the bloc in a press statement.

Since the late 1990s, Bisphenol A has been implicated in causing unfavorable health effects by leaching into food.

Since 2011, the EU has proscribed its use in polycarbonate baby bottles; in 2016, it banned its utilization in thermal receipt paper; and in 2018, it introduced additional constraints on its application in drinking bottles and containers for infants and youngsters, as well as in paints and coatings.

Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, and France have enacted additional regulations on BPA products.

Echoing EFSA’s lead, the EU’s Environment Agency raised concerns about bisphenol A in September 2023, asserting that public exposure to the chemical exceeds acceptable safety thresholds due to its presence in plastic and metal food receptacles, reusable bottles, and drinking water conduits.

Bisphenol A has been a compound of “special concern” for many years, lacking scientific consensus on its safety. Both EU and national regulators are no exception.

BPA is among the three bisphenols recognized by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) as an endocrine disruptor and a “substance of very high concern.”

EFSA published its scientific assessment on 19 April 2023. In response, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) released a report on the same day highlighting the “divergent opinion” with EFSA’s conclusions regarding the TDI revision, attributing it to “the agencies utilizing different evaluation methodologies.”

According to a scientific evaluation from the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), “EFSA revised the TDI mainly based on findings from studies in mice,” and “the applicability of these findings to human health is debatable.”

For all the latest packaging and printing industry news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.