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EC digs deep and confirms EU objections to France BPA ban

By Mark Astley , 16-Apr-2012
Last updated on 16-Apr-2012 at 13:12 GMT

The European Commission (EC) has dug deep and confirmed the objections of several EU member states to the proposed bisphenol-A (BPA) ban in France – just days after claiming to have no knowledge of the oppositions.

The EC confirmation follows reports from the UK-based Independent newspaper and Forbes that several EU member states lodged objections with the EC in relation to the French ban on BPA in food packaging, which is set to become law in 2014.

The chemical is commonly used in the manufacture of epoxy linings in food and beverage containers.

The French draft ban on the chemical is “seeking the suspension of the manufacture, import, export and placement on the market of all food packaging containing bisphenol-A.”

Earlier this month, EC health and consumer policy spokesman Frederic Vincent told FoodProductionDaily.com that he was unaware of where the information had come from.

Vincent has since confirmed objections from several European Union (EU) member states over concerns the ban will create trade barriers.

Unjustified trade barriers

“On the French law, the Czech Republic, Spain, the Netherlands and the UK issued detailed opinions raising concerns about the creation of unjustified barriers between Member States,” said Vincent.

“Comments on the text were provided by the Commission, Italy and Slovakia.”

“The detailed opinions of the four countries led to an extension of the stand still period for adoption of the text by France until April 2012,” he said.

The draft national law was published last year under the European Commission Directive 98/34 – a procedure which imposes an obligation upon Member States to notify the Commission and each other of concerns relating to draft regulations.

“Such procedure aims at providing transparency and control with regard to those regulations. Since they could create unjustified barriers between Member States, their notification in the draft form and subsequent evaluation of their content in the course of the procedure help to diminish this risk,” Vincent added.

Sound scientific principles

Food safety authorities around the world, including the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), have concluded that BPA poses no health hazard in food packaging.

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has reiterated its objection to the approaching French BPA ban, citing its support for a recently published EFSA opinion.

“The FSA supports a risk based approach used by EFSA to assess the potential risk to consumers from BPA in food contact materials. The UK’s primary objection to the French notification was that it cannot be justified scientifically,” a FSA spokesperson told FoodProductionDaily.com.

“The UK also raised the issue that the ban would introduce a significant barrier to trade throughout the EU single market. It may also be considered that the measures are likely to be incompatible with WTO sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) rules, which should be based upon sound scientific principles,” the spokesperson added.

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