Sweden is the latest EU country to consider banning the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) with government scientists due to meet next week to consider the feasibility of introducing a ban next year.
The Swedish government has told the Swedish National Food Administration and the Swedish Chemicals Agency to jointly evaluate the merits and feasibility of introducing a national BPA ban in some plastic products. Special emphasis is to be placed on gauging the risks, if any, BPA poses to children.
The organizations are due to report their recommendations to the Swedish Ministry of the Environment by the end of March 2011.
Danes decision to ban
Bert-Ove Lund, effects and toxicological studies and scientific adviser with the Swedish Chemicals Agency, told FoodProductionDaily.com: “The trigger for this investigation is EFSA’s (European Food Safety Authority) delay in delivering its safety opinion and the Danes’ decision to ban BPA.”
Swedish scientists from both organisations charged with undertaking the research will meet next week to plan how best to carry out their assignment. “The task is rather vague so we need to discuss how best to perform it,” said Lund.
In July, EFSA said that its verdict on the safety of BPA, originally scheduled for the end of May 2010, then rescheduled for July, would in fact be delayed until September this year. “For the literature review, the (CEF) Panel retrieved more than 800 publications and the screening process has taken considerably more time than anticipated,” according to an EFSA statement explaining the delay.
An agency spokesperson told FoodProductionDaily.com that EFSA was on track to deliver its opinion by the end of September. After the European Commission receives EFSA’s opinion it will decide whether or not to introduce a ban.
In March, the Danish government said that from 1 July, it would ban the use of BPA in food and beverage contact materials for infants up to three years of age as a precautionary measure. Its decision followed warnings from the Danish Food Institute that low-level exposure to the substance may inhibit learning capacity.
Widely used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastics, including food contact materials such as baby bottles and the lining of tin cans, BPA and has been linked to a number of possible health problems.
About 1.1m tonnes of BPA is used each year in the EU based on 2005 statistics, according to the Swedish Chemicals Agency. Its main use is as a raw material for the manufacture of polycarbonate, accounting for 80 per cent of total usage and epoxy compounds which make up 18 per cent of the total.
Earlier this month, German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) concluded that two major studies do not show the chemical is hazardous. It said that the studies by Stump et al and Ryan et al provided no indications for adverse health effects on neurological development and behaviour.
In May, the French National Assembly approved a ban on manufacturing, importing, exporting and selling baby bottles made of BPA-based products in France.
BPA supporters insist that the chemical has been tested fully and is certified as safe by all the world’s major food agencies.