The European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA) finding in January that bisphenol A poses no health risk to consumers at current exposure levels may be brought to bear on France, which has unilaterally banned BPA in food packaging.
“Clearly, [the plastics] industry strongly objects to such differing standards and laws in individual Member States in what is designed to be a single European market,” said Jasmin Bird at PlasticsEurope's polycarbonate/BPA Group.
“Such disproportionate bans weaken, rather than strengthen consumer safety, as they sacrifice proven solutions that were developed and optimized over decades to protect food and thus safeguard consumers. The fact that any realistic exposure to BPA is well below even the conservative safety threshold established by EFSA shows that blanket restrictions being applied at national level, in particular in France, are unjustified and should be withdrawn.”
Brussels-based PlasticsEurope filed a complaint with the European Commission in March 2013 against the French law, which took effect on Jan. 1, 2015. In the complaint, PlasticsEurope claims France has infringed EU regulations on food contact materials. In response to the complaint, the Commission has started a dialogue with the French government under an EU Pilot procedure, said Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, in December 2014.
It has requested information about the justification and proportionality of the ban. “The Commission is in close contact with the French authorities, in parallel with the on-going procedure, with a view to finding a satisfactory solution,” said Andriukaitis. The Commission will take into account EFSA's opinion announced in January, he said. After preliminary consultations in EU Pilot, the Commission may start infringement proceedings.
In the view of PlasticsEurope, the Commission must take action against France for its unilateral ban. Bird said: “The EFSA conclusion on BPA should be used as the basis for consistent and harmonized European food safety regulation for BPA, which should be respected by all EU Member States. We therefore expect the Commission to act according to its own rules and principles.”
Some nongovernmental organizations have continued to raise concerns following the EFSA announcement. Gwynne Lyons, policy director at Chem Trust, said: “We are at least glad to see that the Tolerable Daily Intake [TDI] has been reduced by an order of magnitude since 2006, and Chem Trust considers it is likely that this will again need to be reduced in future.”
PlasticsEurope stressed that EFSA's reduction of the TDI was a conservative move. The reduction was not connected to any new health concerns about BPA that have emerged, but instead was because the method used to assess the risk from BPA has become more refined.
Bird said: “The setting of a science-based TDI is the normal way that risk management measures can be derived and consumer safety assured. Therefore, demands for an ever lower TDI for BPA based on the precautionary principle are not justifiable.”