The French Health Authority’s report that Bisphenol A (BPA) poses health risks for pregnant women and unborn children is “in contrast with the most recent global scientific consensus”, according to an industry group.
The opinion published by the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) said a baby’s exposure to BPA in the womb could be linked to health and behavioural problems.
PlasticsEurope said it was still comprehensively reviewing the four reports but added that their members expressed initial concern at the conclusions presented.
“We still cannot follow the ANSES interpretation of the existing scientific evidence,” said Jasmin Bird of the PC/BPA-group.
“It seems to disregard the accepted norms of European risk assessment and is in contrast to the EFSA opinion and the statements made by other regulatory authorities worldwide.”
ANSES said the assessment of health risks backs a 2011 report confirming health effects for pregnant women in terms of potential risks to the unborn child.
It described the confidence level associated with the results as "moderate" by the majority of the experts although some regarded them as "limited", due to the model’s sensitivity to the bioavailability factor.
However, the agency added that it was only possible to assess risks to the unborn children of pregnant women, due to the lack of toxicological benchmark doses for other populations or age groups of interest.
France banned BPA in baby food packaging at the start of the year and its use in all food containers by 2015. However, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently said it was delaying its opinion on the potentially endocrine disrupting chemical until November this year.
Food as main source
Food is the main contributor to internal exposure, 84% for pregnant women, found ANSES.
Products packaged in cans account for about 50% of the total exposure comprising: 35% to 45% for vegetables and 10% to 15% for mixed dishes, and meat- and fish-based products.
ANSES said there was no possibility of detecting the presence or absence of a BPA-releasing coating from the products packaged in cans.
Some foods of animal origin: 17% for meats, offal and delicatessen meats and between 1% and 3% for seafood.
ANSES also said there was a “ubiquitous contamination whose origin has not been identified”, which accounted for between 25% and 30% of total exposure.
The studies selected as starting points had already been evaluated and were judged to be inadequate for regulatory risk assessment purposes on multiple occasions by EFSA and other regulatory bodies, said PlasticsEurope.
Ten contributions were made to the agency relating to substitutes for BPA following a 2011 call for information.
However, ANSES said it did not have the information needed to evaluate the degree to which the 10 contributions are representative of the firms involved in the marketing of BPA and alternatives.
It added that on completion of a 2012 expert committee on Food Contact Materials “no single alternative stood out for replacing BPA for all of its uses”.
The agency identified bisphenol S (BPS), bisphenol F (BPF) and bisphenol AP (BPAP) as potential substitutes, but concluded at the present time that there was not enough toxicological data available to support their safe use.