Bisphenol A, mild measures

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Bisphenol A, BPA-an endocrine disruptor that alters hormonal and metabolic balances-is the focus of concern among food safety experts. But the restrictions on its use in packaging and food contact materials-introduced by the European Commission in EU Regulation 2018/213 (1)-are mild measures, far from the goals.

Bisphenol A, where it is found

BPA is used-70 percent of total production-in the synthesis of polycarbonate. A versatile plastic as it is transparent, durable and strong. It is found in eyeglass lenses, CDs and DVDs, helmets, cell phones, plug sockets and counters, microwave oven doors, among other things.

In the food industry, polycarbonate is used in food and beverage containers (plastic tableware), microwave cooking vessels, kitchen utensils, water tanks, and teats. (2) Until 2011, when it was banned for such use, even in baby bottles. (3)




BPA is then used




in epoxy resins, which are used as coatings in both various industrial applications (including drinking water tanks) and food contact materials (



MOCA

). Such as food cans and soda cans, which contain it 80 percent of the time.

BPA, what dangers?




EFSA.




, European Food Safety Authority, following thorough animal and human testing, concluded



that:




– High levels of exposure to BPA are likely to cause adverse effects on kidneys and liver,



effects of BPA on reproductive, nervous, immune, metabolic, and cardiovascular systems and the possibility of inducing cancer are possible.

The new restrictions introduced by the European Commission are therefore based on the precautionary principle. Noted a ‘situation of scientific uncertainty, although the risk to human health could not yet be fully demonstrated.’

Bisphenol A, the new rules

EU Regulation 2018/213, ‘concerning the use of bisphenol A in paints and coatings intended to come into contact with food and amending Regulation (EU) No. 10/2011 regarding the use of this substance in plastic materials intended to come into contact with foodstuffs’, introduces some new features.

The total ban on the use of bisphenol A is extended to the production of polycarbonate cups and bottles intended for infants. As well as to coatings of packaging intended for infant formulas and baby food. (4)

The scope of the legislation-until now limited to polymers only-is extended to paints and coatings. (5)

Every manufacturer of food contact materials and food packaging will have to systematically monitor the migration levels of BPA, through appropriate laboratory testing.

The ‘declarations of compliance,’ i.e., the official documents that must be transferred to users and made available to control authorities, are themselves subject to additional requirements.

EU Regulation 2018/213 applies as of 6.9.18, to enable operators to comply and dispose of any stocks of non-compliant goods.

BPA, mild measures

The measures taken by the European Commission, on closer inspection, turn out to be mild in any case. Not only with respect to the scientific risk assessment expressed by Efsa, but also taking into account the special resolution 6.10.16 of the European Parliament.

Indeed, the Strasbourg Assembly had asked the Commission to ban tout-cour the use of bisphenol A in all contact materials and food packaging. (6)

The dangers associated with BPA, after all, have already led several states-in Europe and around the world-to adopt those austerity measures that Brussels has not had the courage to adopt. Thus showing more apprehension toward the business of the chemical industry and


Big Food




than toward consumer health.

Luca Foltran and Dario Dongo

Notes

(1) V. reg. EU 2018/213, at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/IT/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:32018R0213&from=EN

(2) Based on the provisions of reg. EU 10/2011

(3) See reg. EU 321/2011

(4) This refers to infant formula, follow-on formulas, cereal-based foods, baby foods or milk and milk-based beverages

(5) In such cases, the migration limit of BPA from articles and packaging (i.e., the maximum amount of substance that can contaminate food) was reduced by 12 times (from 0.6 mg/Kg to 0.05 mg/Kg)

(6) The European Parliament also highlighted the need to exclude bisphenol S (BPS) among possible alternatives to BPA, given the similarity of their toxicological profiles