12 April 2013 12:26 [Source: ICIS news]
By Janos Gal
LONDON (ICIS)--European bisphenol A (BPA) industry players expressed concern on Friday over proposed and already passed legislation that can potentially restrict the use of BPA in food packaging across Europe.
Buyers and traders of BPA have reacted to the latest statement by ANSES, the French food administration agency, which said on 9 April that BPA is dangerous to health and could cause cancer. France banned BPA in all food-contact in 2012 and the legislation will come into force in 2015.
Industry players are now worried that more countries will follow France's lead, and will adapt similar legislation banning BPA in food-contact.
ANSES carried out a number of risk assessments which took into account ways in which humans can be exposed to BPA, for example eating or drinking foods stored in packaging that contains BPA.
The outcome of their latest finding is that "under certain circumstances, the exposure of pregnant women to BPA could pose a potential risk for the unborn child. The identified effects relate to a change in the structure of the mammary gland in the unborn child that could promote subsequent tumour development. The risks potentially affect children of both sexes", the statement said.
ANSES admitted that there are many uncertainties surrounding the results, the testing environment and the current state of scientific knowledge.
It added that BPA poses a "negligible" risk to brain and behaviour, to metabolism and obesity, and to the female reproductive system.
In response, the European plastics industry, represented by PlasticsEurope and the BPA Coalition, slammed the report and said that the outcomes were biased and based on a "selective approach" to research.
"The studies selected as starting point have already been evaluated and judged to be inadequate for regulatory risk assessment purposes on multiple occasions by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) and other global regulatory bodies."
The BPA coalition added: "The ANSES conclusion is in direct contrast to the most recent US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) interim update [...], which is taking a holistic approach towards the evaluation of the most recent science on BPA"
Market participants in the European BPA industry said that the controversy surrounding the subject is very harmful to the industry as there is currently no safe, well-tested and proven replacement for BPA.
"To date BPA is the most tested chemical and the replacements that exist are far more expensive and are much less tested," a BPA trader said.
So far only France moved to ban BPA outright in food packaging. The new legislation will come into force on 1 January 2015, banning BPA in all food packaging.
"This is a serious threat to the BPA industry, there is almost no alternative," a BPA buyer that produces epoxy resins said.
"It is bad enough that from next year BPA will have to be re-labelled as dangerous and we will have to adapt new measures when transporting and handling it," it added.
The buyer referred to new rules that will come into force on 1 January 2014 requiring the safer transportation and different labelling of BPA.
Warehouse staff will need to be specifically trained to handle BPA and special trucks and trains will need to be used to transport it.
Follow Janos Gal on Twitter @janosgalICIS
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