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Spanish group campaigns for BPA ban in food contact materials

By Joe Whitworth , 22-Mar-2013
Last updated on 22-Mar-2013 at 14:13 GMT

A Spanish non-profit health organisation has called for the country to draft legislation that bans bisphenol A (BPA) in food contact materials.

Vivosano are calling on health authorities and political parties to promote the drafting of legislation to prohibit the presence of BPA in all food contact materials in view of the precautionary principle.

Nadia Bennich, international campaigns officer at the Vivosano Foundation told FoodProductionDaily.com that the campaign is about co-operation and having a bigger voice so, for example, people in England are aware of studies in Spain and vice-versa.

She said it had been successful so far with talks with government and informing people about BPA risks.

Legislative timeline

When asked about a timeline for the legislation, she said: “Realistically this is not something that can be done quickly, in an ideal world it would be done tomorrow, but by the time draft legislation is made up which takes about a year and industry changes it will be at least two years, which is why the campaign aims to inform the public now so changes can be made to current habits and lifestyles.

“They can reduce buying food in these containers and switch to glass for example.  It gives people the chance to change and adapt their habits. It will be a slow change but we need to inform and convince politicians and then be patient.

“There has been a surprise among normal people as they don’t know about the risks and the success is about informing and reducing. Some doctors have campaigned for years and years to say BPA is dangerous and to reduce exposure but sometimes their voice is not heard, which is why we have come together – to have a bigger voice.”

BPA is a start

The move is part of the Hogar sin Tóxicos (Toxic Free Home) campaign and Bennich said the national campaign, that began in October, is not just focussed on BPA but around the ECDS debate but they had to start somewhere.

EFSA is to deliver its risk assessment on the substance reviewing all data, scientific studies on dietary exposure and potential low dose effects in May.

She said that EU legislation is a guideline and cited France and Belgium as countries that have gone beyond that, explaining it depended on each country’s own situation.

Understanding the issue

Politicians are not scientists and they don’t always understand the topic, Bennich added, which is why the group have worked with doctors and experts and run an online petition.

When asked about potential replacements possibly being more harmful, she pointed towards the precautionary principle: “It is important to reduce our exposure to these substances and test the others – we can’t wait 20 to 30 years for the full evidence.”

Bennich said that while an alternative may be expensive for industry, the impact on public health would be greater.

“In some cases minor adjustments may have to be made but it could force industry to change the whole packaging of a product, so they will say it is expensive but there are alternatives.”

CoRAP evaluation

BPA is also one of the chemicals in the first Community Rolling Action Plan (CoRAP) and is currently being evaluated by Germany.

Last week the European Parliament backed a proposal to list endocrine disrupting chemicals (ECDs) as “substances of very high concern” under REACH legislation and called for current rules should be updated by June 2015 at the latest and EFSA released an opinion on the subject this week .

MEPs also wanted the European Commission to propose criteria to define and assess endocrine disrupting chemicals so they are not confused with endocrine active substances.