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Bisphenol A levels in cans triggers call for ban

By Rory Harrington , 01-Mar-2010

Tests have revealed the presence of bisphenol A (BPA) in the linings of beverage cans and some of the drinks themselves, including ones made by Nestle and Red Bull, said Friends of the Earth (FOE).

BUND, the German arm of the environmental group, said the BPA traces detected in drinks containers made by major players such as Becks, Fanta and Sprite were within current safety limits and unlikely to pose an independent health risk.

However, the group called for the banning of the chemical in food contact materials on the grounds that consumption of canned drinks would add to consumers’ cumulative exposure to BPA. Dozens of studies have linked BPA to a raft of serious health problems including heart disease, diabetes and birth defects, although agencies such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved its use.

Tests

FOE said tests carried out by the laboratory Labor fur Ruckstandsanalkik, of Bremen, had found BPA in 11 can linings of the brands examined, with traces of the chemical also discovered in almost half the drinks.

Levels per tin ranged from 0.3 micrograms (µg) in Nescafé Xpress Vanilla’s container to 8.3µg in Faxe Bier. According to the results, the Coca-Cola can showed 2.6µg, Becks Beer 2.2µg, Red Bull 2.6µg, Xtreme Energy Drink 4.7µg, Rich Energy 4.8µg, Fanta 5.5µg/ and Sprite 6.0µg/can

Traces of BPA were found in five beverages at levels up 3.9µg/litre. The lowest positive level of the chemical was detected at 0.3µg/litre from a can of Sprite, while the highest was in a sample of canned Faxe-Bier. Other positive results saw BPA detected in Red Bull 0.9µg/litre, Nestle Xpress Vanilla drink 1.5µg/litre and 1µg/litre in Schöfferhofer Grapefruit, said BUND.

No BPA was found in beverage samples tested from Coca-Cola, Fanta, Becks Bier, Rich Prosecco and Xtreme Energy drink.

The group said that factors such as storage conditions of the cans could have influenced the findings and said that more research was needed to determine how significant the results were.

Concerns

The levels of the chemical - used in the manufacture of polycarbonate bottles and epoxy lining of cans - did not suggest any ”acute danger” but did raise concerns, it added.

Patricia Cameron, Bund’s head of substances and technologies, told FoodProductionDaily.com: “The levels of BPA found in our tests do not appear to present an acute danger independently, but they do add to people’s cumulative exposure to the chemical. We are calling on the German Government to ban BPA in food contact materials and put pressure on the EFSA to lower the tolerable daily intake (TDI) level across the region.”

The eco-campaigners made the appeal in the run up to the international summit EFSA has convened on the substance. Last month, the food safety body said it would invite national experts to a meeting by the beginning of April to discuss an update to its opinion on the chemical.

“We would also like the food contact material industry to phase out use of BPA as we believe there are alternatives that are risk free,” Cameron added.

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