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No plans to extend bisphenol A ban, says European Commission

By Rory Harrington , 30-Nov-2010
Last updated on 30-Nov-2010 at 15:45 GMT

The European Commission has no current plans to further restrict or ban bisphenol A (BPA) in other food contact materials following its decision last week to outlaw use of the chemical in polycarbonate baby bottles.

Brussels confirmed that it did not intend to seek to extend its ban to such materials as the epoxy linings of food and beverage cans as there was presently no scientific evidence to support such a move.

The Commission said that it manages risk based on the scientific risk assessments it receives from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

“We are not planning to take further action because the advice from EFSA does not give us a basis to do so”, Frederic Vincent, EC spokesman for health and consumer policy told FoodProductionDaily.com. “Everything we do is based on scientific advice from EFSA. If you look at the opinion there is currently no need to move further on BPA.”

At the end of September, the Parma-based body stated it hadn’t identified any new evidence that would lead it to revise the current Tolerable Daily Intake for BPA of 0.05 mg/kg body weight set in 2006, nor had it found convincing evidence of neurobehavioural toxicity of BPA. The opinion was widely seen as an endorsement of the substance at current levels in food contact materials.

But Health and Consumer Commissioner John Dalli said the EFSA advice had thrown up “areas of uncertainty” which meant infant exposure to the chemical should be minimised. This led to the ban last Thursday.

While the ban was backed by a majority of member states, four abstained, including the UK. The UK Food Standards Agency expressed concern that insufficient time had been given to examine the proposal and that it maintained the chemical did not pose a risk to consumers.

Industry reacted with dismay with Plastics Europe Polycarbonate Group saying it was “deeply disturbed” and that the reasons behind the ban were "unconvincing".

The Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association said: This decision undermines the systems and processes which ensure the safety of food and food contact materials in the EU. The ban will reduce confidence in the reliability of the processes which are installed to guarantee safe food for all European citizens.”

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