UK FSA resists scientists' calls to ban BPA in baby products

08 April 2010 17:46  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS news)--The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) on Thursday resisted calls from scientists for the UK to follow Denmark’s lead by banning bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles and baby food containers, arguing the chemical is not as harmful as these scientists claim.

BPA is widely used in plastics, including materials that come into contact with food, and has been linked to a number of possible health problems, such as disruption of the body's hormonal system, breast cancer, heart disease, obesity and hyperactivity.

In a letter published in The Independent newspaper on Thursday, a coalition of US, UK and Italian health specialists said BPA should be replaced by less-hazardous substances.

We believe it would be both prudent and precautionary in public health terms if products containing BPA used for baby and children's food and liquid packaging in the UK were withdrawn," they wrote.

However, an FSA spokeswoman said the agency would not ban a substance purely on precautionary grounds. The best scientific evidence available indicated that current levels of exposure to BPA were not harmful, the FSA’s chief scientist, Andrew Wadge, said.

UK law permits the use of BPA in plastic materials and articles that come into contact with food, provided no more than 0.6mg/kg migrates into the food.

Last week Denmark became the first European country to ban BPA in food containers for children under the age of three, while France is considering following its example. Canada and three US states have also brought in bans.

In the meantime, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which is due to publish a review of recent scientific literature about endocrine-disrupting substances in May, refused to be drawn on the subject, saying it “cannot pre-judge the final conclusions of its independent experts”.

The study, based on consultations with European experts and several international risk-assessment authorities, aims to ensure the EFSA’s advice is based upon the most up-to-date, reliable information possible, it said.

If necessary, the EFSA will also amend its existing recommendation on the tolerable daily intake (TDI) of 0.05mg/kg body weight for BPA, although it declined to say if this was a likely outcome.

However, the UK’s FSA, which has been actively involved in the EFSA’s consultation, said the EFSA's review found evidence of the impact of BPA in rodents cannot be used to prove the health risks it poses for humans.

“BPA behaves completely differently in rats than in humans and so the EFSA has discounted most of the recent scientific studies as unreliable,” the FSA’s spokeswoman said.

The British Plastics Federation's public and industrial affairs director said the issue has become politicised and detached from scientific reality.

"Media reporting has wildly exaggerated public exposure to BPA and, in any event, the safety of the substance has been buttressed by an extremely comprehensive European Union risk assessment,” Philip Law told ICIS on Thursday.

For more on BPA visit ICIS chemical intelligence
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By: Elaine Mills
+44 208 652 3214

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