Pregnancy group call for BPA labels over bottle fears
By Neil Merrett
Sources: Food Quality News
Contact information: Food Quality News
The use of Bisphenol A (BPA) in bottles and other food
packaging continues to stir controversy, with calls
this week from a UK-based pregnancy charity for
mandatory labelling of the chemical when present in
The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) says that a clear
labelling system, particularly on infant feeding
bottles, should be introduced over fears that the
chemical can leak into beverages and food.
Some recent animal studies have indicated that high
levels of BPA could be carcinogenic.
The charity is the latest organisation to raise
concerns over potential safety hazards of using the
chemical, despite current European Food Safety
Authority (EFSA) policy permitting a maximum daily
intake of 0.05 milligram/kg body weight.
The growing safety concerns could yet see the
goalposts for European packaging companies that use
BPA shifting when manufacturing polycarbonates for
water bottles, canned soups, drinks and baby food
BPA is a chemical used in certain packaging materials
such as the rigid plastic polycarbonate. It is also
used in epoxy-phenolic resins for internal protective
linings for cans and metal lids, as well as in
coatings for storage tanks.
Although conceding that there is as yet no conclusive
proof linking health risks to allowed BPA levels, NCT
chief executive Belinda Phipps says that parents need
to be aware of the potential risk posed to their
children from these products.
"As a first step, it is important that bottles and
other items that might reach a baby's mouth, are
labelled in a standard and easy to understand way,"
she stated. "This will help to remove the risk of
Bisphenol A contamination."
The NCT stressed particular concern over the sale of
second hand bottles, which it claims are more likely
to leak the chemical through damages or scratching to
While not being drawn on its exact intentions for a
possible policy change, EFSA last week said it may
review its previous advice on safe levels of bisphenol
A (BPA) in food packaging and provide updates on its
deliberations. However, the risk assessor said that
it would first wait on the findings of ongoing
assessments in Canada and the US, before making any
In January 2007, EFSA published its own risk
assessment on BPA, in which it established a full
tolerable daily intake of 0.05 milligram/kg body
However, some recent research has focused on whether
even this level is advisable.
The Canadian government announced in mid April that it
had completed a draft risk assessment of BPA in
consultation with industry and other stakeholders and,
starting 19 April 2008, initiated a 60 day public
consultation on whether to ban the importation, sale
and advertising of polycarbonate baby bottles - as
well as several other possibilities.
Government minister Clement said: "With this action,
Canada will be the first country in the world to take
such action to limit exposure to bisphenol A".
Health Canada's screening assessment primarily focused
on the impact of BPA on newborns and infants up to 18
months of age, however, health risks for all ages were
It was concluded that early development is sensitive
to the effects of BPA and that the main source of
exposure for newborns and infants is through the use
of polycarbonate baby bottles when exposed to higher
temperatures and the migration of BPA from cans into
The scientists determined that BPA expose to newborns
and infants is below levels that may pose a risk,
however, the government is proposing the above
measures as a precaution.
The draft assessment confirmed that most Canadians
need not be concerned, since adverse health affects of
BPA generally occur at levels higher than those to
which Canadians are exposed. Minister Clement said
that Canadians can continue to use water bottles
containing BPA and the government will provide
However, Environment Canada scientists also found that
at low levels BPA can harm fish and aquatic organisms.
Other proposals aside from a full-on ban include to
develop migration targets for BPA in infant formula
cans; to work with industry to develop alternative
food packaging and develop a code of practice; and to
list BPA under Schedule 1 of the Canadian
Environmental Protection Act.
Developments in the US
Pressure is growing in the FDA to set new restrictions
on the use of BPA in food packaging following a report
from the National Toxicology Program which concluded
that there was "some concern for neural and
behavioural effects in foetuses, infants and children
at current human exposures to BPA.
The NTP also said that there was evidence that BPA
could induce cancer in humans at current exposure
levels, although more research was needed.
Last month, the Center for Science in the Public
Interest warned pregnant women to reduce their
exposure to packaging containing BPA to avoid passing
the chemical to their unborn children.