EU puts more scrutiny on bisphenol A

EU puts more scrutiny on bisphenol A

The European Union has banned the use of bisphenol A in baby bottles due to health concerns, in a further sign that the net is closing on the controversial chemical used widely in drinks packaging.

Plastic infant feeding bottles sold in the EU must not contain bisphenol A after 1 June 2011, the European Commission said today (26 November). Not all of the EU's 27 member states supported the move, but enough backed the measure to see it enforced across the whole bloc. 

The ban puts more scrutiny on the drinks industry's use of bisphenol A (BPA) in plastic bottles and can linings.

"This is good news for European consumers," said the European health commissioner, John Dalli. "In the view of the recent opinion of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), I had stressed that there were areas of uncertainty, deriving from new studies, which showed that BPA might have an effect on the development, immune response or tumour promotion," he said.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organisation called for more research on the toxicity of BPA. Its announcement came only two weeks after Canada's Government said it would add BPA to its list of toxic substances.

Recent reviews by EFSA and US Food & Drug Administration have cleared BPA for use in food and drink packaging, but regulators have left the door open for future action. "EFSA is monitoring ongoing publications on BPA and is aware of studies being carried out and planned worldwide," the authority said.

The watchdog said that it is "continuously monitoring" new studies on BPA and will "reconsider" its opinion on the chemical if new evidence comes to light.