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UK charity urges government to ban BPA in food and drinks packaging

By Joe Whitworth , 31-Oct-2012
Last updated on 31-Oct-2012 at 13:12 GMT

A UK charity has launched a petition urging the country’s government to ‘take the lead’ and ban bisphenol A (BPA) and endocrine disrupting chemicals in food and drink packaging.

The call came on the same day European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded a meeting involving 18 states, including the UK, aimed at providing an update ahead of the body’s risk assessment on BPA due by May 2013.

Breast Cancer UK spearheaded a campaign in 2010 which led to the ban of BPA in baby bottles throughout the EU in 2011.

The charity now wants the ban extended to all food and drinks packaging and has called on the UK government to take action, instead of waiting for EFSA’s assessment. 

They launched a petition yesterday, that already has nearly 200 signatures, which they aim to target the EFSA review on BPA in May 2013 and the European Commission review on how endocrine disrupting substances are authorised under the REACH guidelines by June 2013.

BPA ban?

Lynn Ladbrook, campaign manager for Breast Cancer UK, told FoodProductionDaily.com they wanted the UK government to take the lead on endocrine disrupting chemicals, like France recently did .

“There is evidence on the low dose effects of BPA from daily consumption and we know it is widely used in food tins and drink bottles.

“We want the UK government to take the lead on endocrine disrupting chemicals in Europe and look to ban the import and export of BPA. We will present the petition to the UK government and hope for a UK-wide ban or for them to take an approach like France has done.

“We need to take the precautionary principal, the rise in breast cancer can not be down to genetics and environmental exposure alone."

She added action needed to be taken now and not when people looked back in 30 years but agreed that any replacement has to be rigorously tested.

“We need to ensure the chemical is not simply replaced by chemicals of a similar molecular make up but replaced with safer alternatives. The onus is on the industry and at times like these, it often spurs innovation with manufacturers already looking at alternatives because of consumer pressure to phase it out.”

EFSA meeting

Yesterday, EFSA concluded a meeting with 18 member states, scientific experts and staff from the agency.

EFSA’s CEF Panel contributed to the scientific discussions around the development of the body’s assessment of human health risks associated with BPA, scheduled for completion in May 2013.

The meeting included representatives from the Commission’s Health and Consumers DG, the Commission’s Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) and the European Chemicals Agency.

Anna Federica Castoldi, from EFSA’s Food Ingredients and Packaging (FIP) unit, told this publication that the goal of the meeting was to share the ongoing actions with member states.

Experts from the member states presented their scientific work on BPA in terms of human exposure current levels in food and other sources; analytical methods; non-dietary sources of exposure; and recent studies on toxicity, including those related to reported low dose effects of the chemical.

“EFSA presented our past and current activity on BPA and put forward our own information in order to go with the risk assessment due in May 2013.

“We heard about unpublished and preliminary data that will be ready next year and we were made aware of other relevant studies for risk assessments in BPA.”

Castoldi said the low dose hypothesis or replacements were not discussed as the focus was on what exactly everyone is doing instead of getting the consensus on the safety of BPA.

Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK took part in the meeting.

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