EU Commission seeks public feedback on banning BPA in food packaging

The EU Commission has launched a four-week public consultation on a draft regulation that aims to ban the use of bisphenol A (BPA) and other bisphenols in food contact materials, such as plastic and coated packaging, printing inks, and adhesives. The proposal is based on the latest scientific assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which found that current exposure levels to BPA pose health risks, especially to the immune system.

food packaging
food packaging

BPA and other bisphenols under scrutiny

BPA is a chemical substance that is widely used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins, which are commonly found in food contact materials, such as food and drink cans, bottles, containers, and lids. BPA can migrate from these materials into food and beverages, and be ingested by consumers.

BPA is an endocrine disruptor, which means that it can interfere with the normal functioning of hormones in the body. BPA has been linked to various adverse health effects, such as reproductive disorders, metabolic diseases, neurodevelopmental problems, and cancer.

Other bisphenols, such as bisphenol S (BPS) and bisphenol F (BPF), are often used as alternatives to BPA, but they may have similar or even worse effects on human health and the environment.

EU Commission proposes a comprehensive ban on BPA in food contact materials

The EU Commission has been following the scientific developments on BPA and other bisphenols, and has taken several measures to reduce the exposure of consumers to these substances. For example, in 2011, the EU banned the use of BPA in baby bottles, and in 2018, it lowered the specific migration limit (SML) of BPA from 0.6 mg/kg to 0.05 mg/kg in plastic food contact materials.

In September 2023, EFSA published an updated scientific opinion on BPA, which concluded that there are health concerns associated with the current exposure levels to BPA, notably on the immune system, for consumers across all age groups. EFSA also recommended to lower the tolerable daily intake (TDI) of BPA from 4 µg/kg body weight per day to 0.0002 µg/kg body weight per day.

Based on this opinion, the EU Commission prepared a draft regulation that proposes to ban the use of BPA and other bisphenols in food contact materials, unless they are first risk assessed and authorized by EFSA. The draft regulation also includes some exemptions and transitional periods for certain products and uses, such as:

  • The disodium salt of BPA for the manufacture of polysulfone resins for plastic food contact membranes, provided that its migration into food is not detectable.
  • The synthesis of BADGE (a derivative of BPA) for the manufacture of heavy-duty varnishes and coatings for materials and articles with a capacity of more than 250 liters, provided that the migration of any residual BPA into food is not detectable.
  • Long-life products, such as processing gaskets, for up to 10 years.

The draft regulation also states that the unintentional presence of BPA in recycled materials is not prohibited, but it should be monitored and reported by business operators and member states.

EU Commission invites feedback from stakeholders and the public

The EU Commission has opened a four-week feedback period on the draft regulation, which will run until March 8, 2024. The feedback mechanism allows citizens, businesses, NGOs, and other interested parties to express their views and provide comments on the proposal.

The feedback received will be taken into account by the EU Commission before finalizing the draft regulation and submitting it to the member states for discussion and vote. The EU Commission expects to adopt the final regulation by the end of 2024 or early 2025.

The feedback mechanism is part of the EU’s Better Regulation Agenda, which aims to ensure that EU policies and laws are evidence-based, transparent, and effective. The EU Commission also conducts impact assessments, public consultations, and evaluations of existing legislation, to improve the quality and coherence of EU lawmaking.

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