Germany agency calls for limits on BPA usage

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Bpa Risk assessment European commission Bisphenol a

Manufacturers, importers and users of bisphenol A (BPA) should use alternative substances that pose less risk to human health and the environment, advises Germany’s Federal Environment Agency (UBA).

BPA is used mainly in polycarbonate baby bottles, infant sippy cups and the epoxy lining of food and drink cans.

The German agency, in the release of a report on the chemical, said that despite uncertainties and gaps in knowledge concerning risk assessment and the level of exposure in relation to BPA, there is a need for action.

Yesterday, Jochen Flasbarth, president of UBA, said that “what is already known about BPA should be sufficient to take decisions on the application of the precautionary principle and limit the use of special products containing BPA.”

A spokesperson for the UBA told that while it is charged, as a federal agency, with determining environmental risks posed by chemicals and other products, companies are not legally bound to carry out its recommendations on BPA.

He explained that it is the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, the BrR, which is charged with assessing whether a food or product constitutes a risk to humans and what action should then be taken, drawing on exposure assessment and toxicological methods.

And in contrast to the UBA stance, the BfR concluded in October 2009, after a review of the available scientific studies on BPA in baby bottles, that the normal use of polycarbonate bottles does not lead to a health risk for infants and small children.

The consumer protection agency also dismissed concerns linking the chemical to cancer, saying “there are no indications of any carcinogenic effect” ​and characterised the substance as having “low acute toxicity”.

The UBA call for a precautionary approach on BPA follows similar actions taken in Denmark and France, enacting precautionary measures for certain products containing the chemical, while Canada has banned baby bottles containing BPA.
A growing body of research that indicates the chemical may cause a range of serious health problems – including diabetes, heightened risks of heart attacks and changes in hormone levels in men.

And mounting consumer, political and even scientific anxiety over its continued use in food packaging has led to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and EFSA to re-examine their positions that the substance poses no health threat at current exposure levels.

Last month, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) announced a delay in delivering its verdict on BPA, saying it needed more time to review the vast body of research on the chemical.

The food safety watchdog said it would now present its opinion to the European Commission (EC) in early July instead of at the end of May, as previously scheduled. Once that advice is delivered, it will be up to the EC to decide whether to implement a ban on BPA or not.

Related topics Food safety and labeling

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