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Breast Cancer UK issues BPA ban rallying cry but FSA remains unmoved

By Joe Whitworth+

14-May-2013

Breast Cancer UK has claimed there is a “wealth of peer reviewed, scientific evidence that raises serious concerns” over the safety of exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) but the UK agency responsible has reaffirmed its stance that the chemical does not pose a health risk to consumers.

In a report published today the charity said the government and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) continue to cite a “few, very limited”, scientific studies to support their opinion that BPA is safe to use in packaging.

It claims to highlight how much evidence there is that the chemical affects the structureand development of the mammary gland, increases breast density, and disrupts DNA – all factors known to increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

FSA: no health risk

However, the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has said exposure to BPA from food contact materials does not represent a health risk to consumers based on EFSA’s scientific opinion.

“While the FSA considers the current level of consumer exposure to BPA from food contact materials does not represent a food safety risk for consumers, it continues to keep the scientific evidence on BPA under review and will act to protect consumers if the evidence shows that it is necessary to do so,”  said an FSA statement sent to FoodProductionDaily.com.

Lynn Ladbrook, Breast Cancer UK campaigns manager, said: “The government can no longer sweep this sort of overwhelming evidence under the carpet.

“It must acknowledge that our routine exposure to chemicals, like BPA, is a key part of the cancer prevention puzzle, one that is currently missing from its cancer and public health strategies.”

Report recommendations

The charity is calling for EFSA to review the relevance of having a tolerable daily intake (TDI) for BPA, the EU to implement the precautionary principle and that UK government acknowledges the links between EDCs and breast cancer.  

The FSA cited an EFSA opinion in 2010 which concluded that the TDI established in 2006 did not require adjustment.

EFSA set the current TDI level at 0.05mg per kg of body weight per day and will deliver an opinion for public consultation in July and a completed opinion in November after delaying the original verdict expected this month.

Breast Cancer UK added it wanted equal weight and consideration to be given to well conducted, independent studies regardless of whether or not they comply with Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ‘good laboratory practice’ (GLP) guidelines.

The charity launched a petition in October last year urging the government to take the lead and ban the chemical in food and drink packaging.

The report launch coincided with National Cancer Prevention Week and acknowledges that the risk factors for breast cancer are multifactorial.

Separate country action

France, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden have all taken additional action to either fully or partially ban its use in food packaging.

Meanwhile, Mario Borghezio the Italian member of the European Parliament and the Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) party has submitted a written question asking if BPA in food packaging should be banned.    

In the question to the European Commission he asks if they are aware of what he calls the “alarming study” on BPA by the French health agency, ANSES, published earlier this year and if they are going to take any action on making BPA-containing products illegal.

The question will be answered within six weeks, according to European Parliament procedure.