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French BPA ban will ‘jeopardise’ US exports – USDA

By Mark Astley, 13-Feb-2012

Related topics: Packaging Technology, Packaging

A French ban on food packaging chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA) will “jeopardise” US exports to the European country, according to a US government report.

Frozen meat and seafood products, which are most likely to have BPA in their packaging, will be hit hardest by the ban, according to the US Department of Agriculture report; Proposed Bisphenol-A ban in food packaging would impact US exports to France.

The Florida orange and grapefruit juice market, which typically uses plastic containers, is also expected to suffer at the hands of the French law – which is set to take effect from 1 January 2014.

The ban, which came as a result of a report by the French food safety authority, will affect any plastic packaging or plastic component that contains the substance.

‘Inevitable higher cost’

“If at this stage it is very difficult to precisely quantify the impact of a possible ban or restriction of the use of BPA in food packaging; it is clear nonetheless, to say that this can would impact and jeopardise the US processed and other food exports to France,” said the report.

“Moreover, the small and medium US companies and the US suppliers who export to France and Europe might not have the financial support to change their packaging.”

“Frozen seafood and meat products are most likely using BPA in their packaging, as well as packers for bulk dried fruit and dried legume. That means to say that it affects the majority of the manufactured, frozen and fresh products.”

The report added that France-based US companies would need to adapt and change the composition of their packaging to meet the regulations – at an inevitable higher cost.

However, supporters of the bill say that a ban on BPA food packaging could actually provide some market opportunities to innovate US companies.

Several US companies, including ConAgra, Heinz, General Mills and Nestle, have begun removing BPA from their food packaging including ConAgra, Heinz, General Mills and Nestle.

“New renewable compounds such as Isosorbide diglycidyl either made out of corn could replace BPA epoxy resins in the lining of metal cans,” the report added.

No risk to health

The proposed French ban followed a September 2011 report from the country's food safety authority, ANSES, which concluded that BPA has a suspected impact on human health.

The following month, the National Assembly passed a bill that banned the sale of any food packaging container and food material containing BPA by 1 January 2014.

In December 2011, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) dismissed concerns raised by the ANSES report and reiterated its opinion that the chemical poses no risk to human health.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must reach a decision on whether to ban BPA in food and drink packaging before 31 March 2012.